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Imams speak out against Australians fighting in Syria

In its first official statement on the Syrian crisis, a forum representing some of the country’s leading Muslim religious leaders has advised Australians against travelling to the war-torn nation to engage in fighting.

A group of more than 20 imams that make up the National Imams Consultative Forum (NCIF) met in Melbourne earlier this month. During the forum’s fifth session, discussions focused on the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Syria.

The imams’ comments on fighting in Syria are significant because they come against a backdrop of a growing number of Australians dying in the conflict and amid concern about the security impact on the nation when Australians return home with fighting capabilities.

Their views on such pressing matters are also likely to carry much weight in the Muslim community, and would be noted by many.

The imams issued the following five key messages on Syria:

The imams deplore and condemn the continuing violence and bloodshed in the strongest possible terms. In particular, attacks on innocent civilians and non-combatants, including women, children and the elderly, are condemned as violations of international norms and Islamic law.

The imams wish to express their concern about international military interference in Syria, as it is feared that outside funds, arms flow and foreign fighters are prolonging the conflict and preventing a solution.

The imams advise Australian citizens against travelling to Syria to engage in fighting.

The imams advise that fighting for either side in the conflict is prohibited under Australian law.

The imams’ call on all Muslim Australians to aid civilians caught up in this humanitarian crisis through legal avenues, including through donations, political participation, and prayers. There are many legal channels available to convey aid funds to Syria and to refugee camps on surrounding nations such as Turkey, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon.

Australia’s imams’ forum is an initiative of the Australian National Imams Council, which represents Australian-based Muslim clerics, and the National Centre of Excellence for Islamic Studies (a collaboration between the Imams Council and the universities of Melbourne, Griffith and Western Sydney).

The first group of its kind to be formed in Australia, the NCIF is represented by imams from every state and territory and a cross-section of Australian Muslim schools of thought.

Two previous official public statements issued by the imam’s forum condemned the Boston bombings in the United States and the Woolich attack in the United Kingdom.

Read more: 'Australia's imams come together'

The Point

Imams speak out against Australians fighting in Syria


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