IRAQ – British Sunni imams visit Iraq in bid to counter Islamic State propaganda in the UK
A group of Sunni imams made the first-ever visit to Iraq by British Muslim religious leaders to see first hand the front line in the fight against ISIS. During the eight-day fact-finding mission, the imams, representing mosques across the country visited parts of the country previously under Isis control as well as meeting victims of the group, including from the Yazidi community.
The aim of the visit is to help counter Isis propaganda in the UK by highlighting the Sunni resistance to Isis in Iraq and relaying back first-hand accounts of life under the extremists. They visited Samarra and Tikrit as well as Baghdad. Tikrit was previously under Isis occupation while Samarra was for a long time at the front line between the Iraqi army and Isis.They also plan to bring Iraqi Sunni imams to the UK, to talk in mosques about the reality of life in Isis-controlled areas and to “deglamorise” the group and its appeal to young British Muslims.
Sheikh Mohammed Umer Ramadhan El-Qadiri, a Sunni Muslim scholar who was part of the delegation said he considered the fatwa“religious ruling” of Sufficiency Jihad against ISIS, ruled by the Islamic supreme religious authority His Eminence Sayyid Ali Al Sistani, as a humanitarian obligation based on a true Islamic principle which calls for love of home and religions. He also added, “Wahhabism and Salafism never represent Sunni Muslims, and we condemn all of their rulings that call for blood shedding and enrolling the youth”.
The trip was paid for in part by trustees of the Imam Husayn Shrine in Karbala which Isis attempted to blow up earlier this year. The rest of the funding came from the Muslim community in the UK. Mustafa Field, an Iraqi-born community organiser who has helped to arrange the trip, said the group would “This is about empowering credible Muslim leaders in Britain to see for themselves what has been going on in Iraq”.