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Dear list I'm sure this report in today's Guardian newspaper will be included in Peter Brooke's news roundup, so forgive the duplication. But I'd like to draw your attention to it because it summarises so well the opinions of many 'ordinary' moderate Muslims living in Britain. In peace and hope Cathy Aitchison -------------- http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,3604,874221,00.html British Muslims fear conflict for generations -------------- Jeevan Vasagar Tuesday January 14, 2003 The Guardian Britain's biggest Muslim organisation yesterday warned Tony Blair that war with Iraq would cause community relations to deteriorate and breed "bitterness and conflict for generations to come". Iqbal Sacranie, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, urged the prime minister to use his influence to "avert the destruction of an important Muslim country" and warned of deep cynicism among British Muslims about the motives for the war on terror. In a letter to No 10, Mr Sacranie described the plans for war as a "colonial policy". "It is generally believed the real American objective behind such an invasion is to change the political map of the Middle East, appropriate its oil wealth and appoint Israel as a regional superpower exercising total hegemony over the entire Middle East and beyond," he wrote. A war would worsen relations between communities and faiths in Britain as well as causing "lasting damage" to relations between the Muslim world and the west, Mr Sacranie added. The opposition of the MCB, a moderate organisation linked to dozens of community groups, highlights the failure of the US and Britain to convince Muslims in the west of the validity of the war on terrorism. Seven out of 10 British Muslims believe the war on terror is a war on Islam, according to an ICM poll published last month. In the letter, Mr Sacranie expressed support for the anti-terrorist campaign, but wrote: "The war on terror should and can be won, but it has to be fought collectively not selectively, openly not secretively." He told the Guardian that when he referred to fighting terrorism "collectively" he meant "in all areas, whether it is states - like Israel - or organisations." Mr Sacranie said he did not believe there should be war even if Iraq was found to possess weapons of mass destruction. "If WMD are being got rid of, all countries have to get rid of them, and war is not the way to go about this. "If we are talking about the region, Israel has chemical, biological and nuclear weapons." He also criticised the chief rabbi, Dr Jonathan Sacks, who has expressed conditional support for military action against Saddam Hussein. "We are very saddened by the remarks made by the chief rabbi," Mr Sacranie said. The MCB's letter praised Mr Blair's attempt to revive the Middle East peace process, but added: "A war on Iraq would certainly unravel whatever little has been achieved so far. "The humiliation ... that would attend a military conquest is likely to provide a natural ground for the growth of bitterness and conflict for generations to come." Both President George Bush and Mr Blair have stated that the prospective campaign against Iraq is directed at Saddam Hussein's regime and is not a conflict with the wider Muslim world. A Downing Street spokeswoman said: "The prime minister has made clear that this is not about a war against Islam. "The government has done lots of work with the Muslim community here and with the Arab world and will continue to do so." -- Cathy Aitchison Aitchison Media & Development 020 8685 9928 http://www.twiza.demon.co.uk/amd _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk