UK & World News
Imams Call On UK Muslims Not To Join Jihad
More than 100 Imams have signed an open letter urging British Muslims not to join jihadist groups fighting in Syria and Iraq.
The letter comes during the Islamic festival of Ramadan, but against a backdrop of tensions between the Middle East and the west.
The situation has been underlined by heightened security at UK airports after US officials warned of "specific" terrorist threats against direct flights to America.
Concerns have also been raised about home-grown involvement in terrorism, after three men - Abdul Rakib Amin, from Aberdeen, and Reyaad Khan and Nasser Muthana, both from Cardiff - featured in a recent promotional video made for ISIS insurgents.
The Government estimates around 400 British-born fighters are currently in Syria and Iraq.
The open letter reads: "As the crisis in Syria and Iraq deepens, we the under-signed have come together as a unified voice to urge the British Muslim communities not to fall prey to any form of sectarian divisions or social discord.
"Ramadan, the month of mercy, teaches us the value of unity and perseverance and we urge the British Muslim communities to continue the generous and tireless efforts to support all of those affected by the crisis in Syria and unfolding events in Iraq, but to do so from the UK in a safe and responsible way."
Qari Mohammed Asim, imam at Leeds Makka Mosque, who played a key role in organising the letter, said: "The scale of the humanitarian disaster in Syria and the escalating violence in Iraq calls for an unprecedented response.
"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.
"Here in the UK we are Sunnis and Shias, brothers in Islam - and brothers in Britain too. The conflict in Syria and Iraq can never change that no matter how bitter the fighting.
"We urge members of the community to echo this sentiment by adding their signature to this letter, joining the many others that have done so already."