UK Muslim leaders call for restraint by Israel and condemn Hamas attacks
Prominent clerics have released a statement about the worsening crisis in Israel and Palestine, highlighting rising antisemitism and Islamophobia in Britain
More than a dozen of the UK’s most senior Muslim leaders have called on the government of Israel “to act with restraint and within the boundaries of international law” while condemning “all acts of antisemitism or Islamophobia that have taken place” in Britain.
The statement, which has been shared with Hyphen, marks the most significant public intervention yet by senior UK Muslim clerics, following the 7 October Hamas attack that left more than 1,300 Israelis dead and the subsequent Israeli assault on Gaza, which has killed an estimated 3,500 people so far.
The statement continues: “The complete siege on Gaza has resulted in immense suffering and recent actions are intensifying a humanitarian crisis of untold proportions upon Palestinians, who are not responsible for the actions of Hamas.”
Signatories of the statement include Qari Asim, the imam of the Makkah Masjid Mosque in Leeds and former deputy chair of the government Anti-Muslim Hatred Working Group, and Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra, a senior imam from Leicester.
“We want to denounce Hamas killing civilians in Israel. Killing civilians is against the teachings of Islam and the teachings of the prophet Muhammad,” said Qari Asim, in an interview with Hyphen.
“The people of Palestine should not be collectively punished for the crimes of Hamas or any other organisation. We have urged the government of Israel to immediately and urgently bring an end to the ongoing violence in Palestine and Gaza, in particular. We also call for a diplomatic push for a cessation of war and a peaceful resolution of the ongoing conflict that has cost hundreds and thousands of lives over decades.”
Hyphen also spoke with Mogra, who delivered a joint statement of solidarity alongside the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby and Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg of Masorti UK at Lambeth Palace on 17 October, describing antisemitic hate crimes carried out on British streets in the past week as “deplorable and wrong”.
“We hope that people will be reassured that there are Muslim faith leaders who are calling for an end to the conflict, for respect for international law and for humanitarian relief to be able to reach those affected,” he said, adding that it is vital that “relations here in the UK between our different communities are also maintained as cordial and respectful”.
The statement by the Muslim clerics emphasises the importance of free speech and the right to protest for both Muslims and Jews in the UK, reading: “We also affirm the right of communities across the country to show their solidarity and support for both Palestinians and Israelis caught up in this conflict, in line with British laws surrounding freedom of speech and protest.”
Earlier this month, Home Secretary Suella Braverman wrote to senior police officers suggesting that waving a Palestinian flag or chanting demands for freedom for Arabs in the Middle East could be deemed criminal offences.
In the letter to chief constables in England and Wales, Braverman stated: “Context is crucial. Behaviours that are legitimate in some circumstances, for example the waving of a Palestinian flag, may not be legitimate such as when intended to glorify acts of terrorism”.
“We recognise that there will be people who want to support Palestine or Israel. As long as it is done in this country in a peaceful way, they have the right to do that,” said Mogra.
The full statement can be read below:
Statement by British Muslim Faith Leaders
We, the undersigned British Muslims, unequivocally condemn the killing of civilians in Israel and Gaza. As we watch the heart-wrenching scenes of Al Ahli Arab Hospital burning, we are reminded that the killing and destruction against innocent men, women and children is deplorable and is contrary to the principles of justice and humanity that we hold dear in our faith.
We denounce Hamas’ killing and abduction of innocent people on the 7th of October 2023 as well as the Israeli military’s subsequent use of excessive force.
We urge the government of Israel to act with restraint and within the boundaries of international law. The complete siege on Gaza has resulted in immense suffering and recent actions are intensifying a humanitarian crisis of untold proportions upon Palestinians, who are not responsible for the actions of Hamas.
We also appeal to the international community to pursue diplomatic and political avenues to peace. The current crisis has shown the failure of international initiatives, but it is surely only through diplomacy that we can achieve lasting peace in the Holy Land. We call for an end to all hostilities and urge our government to urgently step up efforts to ensure international humanitarian law and human rights are upheld, and to negotiate a ceasefire that can stop the further killing of innocent people.
We also utterly condemn all acts of Antisemitism or Islamophobia that have taken place on our streets here in Britain. No-one should feel unsafe in their own neighbourhoods and in this country. Mutual respect and dialogue between Muslim and Jewish communities at home and abroad, along with a shared commitment to peace, justice, and the safety of all communities are ever more important. We also affirm the right of communities across the country to show their solidarity and support for both Palestinians and Israelis caught up in this conflict, in line with British laws surrounding freedom of speech and protest.
We pray for peace and justice and for an end to this cyclical conflict.
Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra, Imam Qari Asim, Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad, Shaykh Dr Musharraf Hussein, Shaykh Dr Khalifa Ezzat, Shaykha Saleha Islam, Shaykh Mufti Faiz Rasool, Shaykh Masood Akhtar Hazarvi, Shaykh Arif Abdul Hussain, Dr Ali-Reza Bhojani, Shaykh Umar Hayat Qadri, Imam Ijaz Ahmad Shaami, Imam Dr Muhammad Munir, Imam Zeeshan Baloch, Dr Abdullah Sahin
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