CAIRO – More than 100 imams from across the UK have posted an open letter on Imams Online website to urge young Muslims not to join the fight in Syria and Iraq.
“British Muslim communities [should] continue the generous and tireless effort to support all of those affected by the crisis in Syria and unfolding events in Iraq, but… do so from the UK in a safe and responsible way,” they wrote in the letter released on Friday, July 4.
The statement comes following the appearance of two British men, one as young as 17, on a recruitment video for the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), who are attempting to establish an Islamic state in Iraq and Syria.
In the video, the men call for more Britons to come to Iraq and Syria to take up arms with ISIS.
The video revived worries expressed earlier by Prime Minister David Cameron who said that foreign fighters in ISIL posed “the biggest threat” to UK national security.
"The number of foreign fighters in that area, the number of foreign fighters including those from the UK who could try to return to the UK is a real threat to our country," he said.
Sent in the first week of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, the imams’ message urged Muslims not to get involved in sectarian wars between Sunnis and Shiites.
“The scale of the humanitarian disaster in Syria and the escalating violence in Iraq calls for an unprecedented response,” Qari Mohammed Asim, Imam at Leeds Makka Mosque, who played a key role in developing the letter, said.
“As we near the end of the first week of Ramadan our message is simple, we have come together to urge British Muslim communities not to fall prey to any form of sectarian divisions or social discord.”
Discouraging youth from joining the fight, mosques across the UK launched a campaign to encourage people to help Syrians through charities regulated by the Charity Commission, instead of going to the countries to help directly.
Another Walk for Syria event was scheduled next July 19, to raise funds for Syrian people by Muslim Hands charity group.