UK & World News
Muslim Leaders Issue Fatwa Against IS Britons
Muslim leaders have reportedly issued a fatwa condemning Britons who fight for extremists in Iraq and Syria.
The fatwa, which The Sunday Times newspaper said had been issued by imams, is the strongest denunciation yet by the Muslim community of UK citizens who join militants of the self-proclaimed Islamic State, formerly known as ISIL and ISIS.
It comes as former Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown accused Conservative ministers of "kneejerk" responses to the terrorism threat from extremists - and the US carried out airstrikes against IS fighters near Amerli in northern Iraq.
Air drops were also made to civilians in the area, including two by British Hercules aircraft, as the Iraqi army evacuated people from the besieged town as Iraqi and Kurdish forces closed in on IS fighters.
The UK Government has raised the terror threat to Britain from "substantial" to "severe", although Home Secretary Theresa May said there was no evidence to suggest an attack was "imminent".
Issued by a learned Muslim scholar, a fatwa is an edict that may concern any aspect of Islamic life.
Technically it cannot be revoked and dies only with the person it is imposed on.
The Sunday Times reported six senior Islamic scholars have endorsed the fatwa, describing Britons allied to Islamic State cells as "heretics".
According to the newspaper, the fatwa says Muslims have a "moral obligation" to help those in war-torn Syria and Iraq, but that they should do so "without betraying their own societies".
The term fatwa rose to prominence in the West in 1989 after the author Salman Rushdie was forced into hiding after having a "death fatwa" issued against him.
It was imposed by Ayatollah Khomeni, then Supreme Leader of Iran, who said Rushdie's book, The Satanic Verses, had "insulted" Islam.
Meanwhile, Lord Ashdown has argued in an article for The Observer that the current terror threat to the UK is one "one we have faced before and one we know how to deal with - effectively, without panic and without a whole new range of executive powers which could endanger our liberties".
"Indeed, when it comes to facing threats, it was surely far more difficult to cope with IRA terrorists slipping across the Irish Sea than it is to stop jihadis returning from Iraq," he wrote.
He said Prime Minister David Cameron had initially seemed to be keen to avoid a rushed response.
But he argued Tory ministers had recently "indulged in a spasm of kneejerking which would have made even St Vitus feel concerned".
"And Labour, frightened as always when it comes to liberty and security, capitulates to the demand."