Birmingham & Black Country

Imam calls for Muslim British armed forces boycott

Shaykh Asrar Rashid
Image caption Mr Rashid was arrested over a religious dispute during a Hajj Pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia in 2010

A Birmingham Imam has said that Muslims should not fight in the British armed forces on conscientious grounds due to their presence in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Shaykh Asrar Rashid, a visiting cleric at the city's mosques, also told the BBC the Queen was "a disgusting woman" for knighting author Salman Rushdie.

In 1989 Iran's leaders called for the death of Mr Rushdie for writing The Satanic Verses, deemed "blasphemous".

The Muslim Council of Britain said the Imam's views were not representative.

Mr Rashid, who was arrested during a Hajj Pilgrimage last summer, lives in Sparkbrook in Birmingham and preaches in mosques around the city.

'Not English way'

He said: "If a foreign government invaded England tomorrow we as Muslims would defend these areas and our way of life.

"It's not that I hate English people, or English soldiers who have gone abroad, or that I don't feel for the mothers of these soldiers. But the fact is they should make conscientious decisions as well.

"That we must only fight wars which are in our interest, and invading Iraq and then oppressing the Iraqi people and Afghani people, is not the English way," he added.

The Muslim Council of Britain, an umbrella group representing more than 500 Muslim organisations in the UK, said Muslims had a duty to contribute to the "betterment" of the society they lived in.

'Easily sympathise'

A spokesman said: "Theologically speaking there is nothing that prevents a Muslim joining the British army. To date there are 350 serving Muslim officers, men and women, in the British Army."

He said that disrespecting the Queen, as the British head of state, was a "disgusting" thing for a Muslim to do.

"As Muslims we are ready to show respect to leaders. We may disagree with some of the things she might do and say but that does not give us the right to be insulting to her."

Zeeshan Hashmi, whose brother Jabron was the first British Muslim killed while fighting in Afghanistan, said: "I am privileged living in Britain. One of the key traits of living in this country and being a Brit is that we have free speech. Based on that the Imam can say all of these things living in a very free society.

"At the same time being an ex-solider and having lost my brother in Afghanistan, I can easily sympathise with his views."

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