As Parliament discusses
intervention, the Muslim Council of Britain articulates the concern of most
British Muslims and indeed the wider public, at the plight of the Syrian
people. Our leaders and representatives have an onerous decision to make in the
face of ongoing conflict and civil war.
The Muslim Council of Britain is particularly
disturbed by the reported chemical attack on civilians near Damascus allegedly
committed by the Bashar regime. If true, it only underscores years of brutality
by a government that has no hesitation in killing its own people. Sadly this
reflects a regional situation where the democratic gains of the Arab Spring are
being reversed brutally. We witnessed this only a few weeks ago in Egypt.
We condemn the horrors perpetrated by
the Assad regime, and we do not condone acts of indiscriminate violence
committed by sections of the opposition.
But we do not think military
action will make it any better for the oppressed people of Syria. The Assad
regime must go, but it seems this can only happen around a negotiation table
and with a guarantee of preserving Syria’s rich diversity.
We are concerned that regime change
facilitated by Western military forces will lead to the kind of chaos we
witnessed in Iraq in the days after invasion. What started off as a conflict
between the brutal dictatorship and democracy activists is now slowly becoming
an intractable sectarian conflict. This may be accelerated following Western
We must urge for a process backed by
the United Nations, with all actors around the table. We must pursue all
avenues that lead towards a peaceful settlement.
There is legitimate concern that our
government will pursue this intervention alone in concert with the United
States and a few Western powers. If there are any lessons to be learned from
history, it is that the West has a very poor record of intervention in the
Middle East. Let us not risk a permanent chaos through knee-jerk reaction.
The Syrian crisis is a challenge of a
generation where thousands of lives have already been lost with millions
displaced and the problem showing no sign of easing. Many within the Muslim
community and indeed amongst our affiliates have been working tirelessly to
raise funds and to stand by the suffering people of Syria. The Muslim Council
of Britain commends these efforts and encourages all to support the much needed
humanitarian work being carried out by a diversity of British relief