Imtiaz Ameen was Conservative candidate for Blackburn at the 2005 general election, is a former councillor in Dewsbury and writes a regular blog.
Last week Paul
Goodman discussed the potential effect military involvement by the UK
government would have on Muslims in this country. At the time it seemed
inevitable that Britain would be involved with the US and other allies in some
form of action against the Syrian regime for its use of chemical weapons.
However, the decision taken by Ed Milliband and the Labour Party to oppose the
PM’s motion in Parliament supported by some Tories and Liberal Democrats means that
as things stand Britain will not participate in any military action but watch
from the sidelines as other nations act. In the worst case scenario we as a
nation will be turning a blind eye to genocide and even more deadly use of chemical
weapons against its own people by the Syrian regime.
Will this decision,
branded by some as a great victory by Parliament against the Executive mean
that Muslims in this country will be euphoric and praise Ed Milliband’s actions
or view his behaviour with contempt and deem them as political cowardice?
believe that it will be the latter and the decision to not involve Britain in
any military action for the genocide of 1400 mainly Muslim people will undoubtedly
be regarded as a very poor one by British Muslims for reasons set out below.
- The indiscriminate killing of people by the use
of chemical weapons should be unreservedly condemned by every single British
Muslim. Had this killing been done under the watch of a non-Muslim, Muslims here
and around the world would have been outraged and marches and demonstration
would have been held calling for immediate retaliatory action. The fact that
this killing has been done by Muslims under the watch of a Muslim leader in
Basher Al-Assad should not matter one iota and it would be shameful for any
Muslim to argue otherwise or use the excuse of civil war to ignore or excuse his
actions. Shouldn’t every Muslim be supportive of any action that may prevent
such an atrocity happening again, or even if military action is being taken as
an act of retribution shouldn’t we all be fully supportive?
- "We shouldn’t rush to war" is the pretext used frequently
for military non-involvement. It seems 100 000 people dead, 2 million refugees,
several million living without adequate food and basic amenities and now
civilians being killed en masse with nerve agents isn’t enough pain and anguish
for some to be moved to take action. We should have learnt our lesson by now
that you can’t negotiate with dictators who have no qualms about killing their
own people. In the end dictators have to be dealt with sooner or later and
recent history provides many examples of this. Had for example Israel carried
out the same attack on Syrians across its border I wonder how many Muslims
here would have demanded a ‘negotiated’ settlement supported by the UN? How can there be any form of negotiation with
a regime that indiscriminately kills its own civilians using chemical weapons?
To turn a blind eye like Ed Milliband has advocated is negligent behaviour of
the worst kind by a Leader of a Party of a democratic and liberal nation which
is a member of the UN Security Council. I look forward to seeing the Labour
Party having as a policy objective Britain’s resignation as a member of the UN
Security Council now it favours an isolationist foreign policy, and advocates turning
a blind eye to the use of chemical weapons.
- After the use of chemical weapons to
indiscriminately kill people living in the region of Ghouta there appears to have
been a clamour from some politicians and commentators in the media to verify
with evidence they approve of that
this attack was carried out by the Syrian regime and not by the rebels. This
argument is also one that many Muslims have put forward and used as reason to
avoid military intervention. As far as I can recall the Syrian government has
at no point in the past two years stated that any of its chemical weapons were
missing or had fallen into rebels hands or ever alleged that the rebels were
capable of making such weapons. In fact the regime didn’t even raise an alarm
warning citizens to take preventive measures which surely they would have done
so had the rebels had actually used such weapons. Furthermore I have no doubt
that the regime would have used chemical weapon use by rebels in every medium
available to it as propaganda which it has failed to do and additional evidence
of some form of chemical weapon use against civilians was provided by the BBC a few days later. These
excuses have been made by apologists of the actions of the Syrian government.
They further argue that the regime was starting to militarily overcome its
opponents but the fact that battles were taking place on the outskirts of Damascus
obviously prove otherwise. The presumption must be that it is the regime that
has carried out this atrocity unless it can prove otherwise – which it has glaringly
failed to do.
- The Iraq war and the lies which took us to war
are being used as reasons to urge caution and avoid military action. While this
is a legitimate concern, the dishonesty of some politicians should not be used
to tar everyone with the same brush. The mendacity of some in the past cannot
be reason enough not to do anything in the future. Why should innocent
civilians in Syria be punished for the deception of some politicians? And in
any event despite the fact that the Labour Party was in government and Tony
Blair was responsible for the fabricated evidence relating to WMD in Iraq, Muslims
still gave Labour their vote at the subsequent general election.
- It is argued that we should not interfere in a
region and country which is unstable to say the least and when the outcome of
any military action is so unclear. Preventing more innocent people being killed
by the use of chemicals is a legitimate and relevant aim which surely outweighs
any concern of what may happen and what effect this may have in the region and
beyond. What can be more adverse in its impact than a green light by the West
to a tyrannical regime in the Middle East to continue using chemical weapons? There
is also the possibility that there are no adverse ramifications and therefore shouldn’t
the ongoing killing of innocent people be a far more important concern than of unknown
- During the past two years in Mosques throughout
the country, on Islamic TV channels, in the Asian press/media campaigns by
various charities for help with humanitarian assistance in Syria have been made
and are still ongoing. Millions of pounds have been raised from Muslims and
non-Muslims alike to help Syrian refugees, orphans, widows and the elderly who
have suffered as a result of this conflict. Isn’t it better to support action
which avoids the need for more humanitarian aid than to ensure it has to be
provided on an ongoing and indeterminate basis?
- Finally the default argument put forward in all
such scenarios is that any military action will be seen as an attack on Islam
and will lead to an increase in support of extremists and mean more people will
engage in terrorist activities in this country. The Syrian conflict has been
raging for two years and if a military attack to deter any future use of
chemical weapons and/or retribution is an attack on Islam then what the Syrian regime
has been doing for the past two years is much worse. Extremists will latch on
to any excuse to swell their ranks – that cannot be a reason not to do the
should wholeheartedly support any military action against the Syrian regime for
its use of chemical weapons. If no action is taken hundreds if not thousands
more will be killed by a tyrannical regime which has no interests in the
welfare and well being of its own people. British Muslims who seek to turn a
blind eye to this atrocity will also forfeit the right to seek military action
against any other country where atrocities against Muslims take place.
consequences of ignoring the actions of the Syrian regime would mean that every
despot and dictator especially in the Middle East would in future actively
acquire and use such weapons in the belief that there will be no repercussions
or retribution for his actions.
of Britain in military action against the Syrian regime is symbolically,
strategically and morally necessary and once the UN investigators, the United
States and/or any other body conclude their investigations and report that
chemical weapons have been used the Prime Minister should return to Parliament with
this evidence and again try and seek a mandate for British involvement in
military action. Doing the right thing is far more important that losing a vote
in Parliament once.