Bahai News -- Evening Telegraph - A 'NO' TO WAR


Religious leaders in and around Derby have united to urge the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, not to rush into a war against Iraq.

A letter signed by 10 leaders representing the city's various faith communities was sent to 10 Downing Street over the weekend.

It calls for a peaceful resolution of the current crisis and warns that war in Iraq would have "catastrophic consequences" for the rest of the world - including harm to community relations in cities such as Derby.

The letter was the brainchild of the Mayor of Derby, Councillor Robin Turner, and the Bishop of Derby, the Rt Rev Jonathan Bailey.

It has been signed by representatives of the city's Anglican, Hindu, Methodist, Baptist, Roman Catholic, Sikh, Muslim, Baha'i, United Reformed Church and Salvation Army communities.

It calls for weapons inspectors to be given sufficient time to complete their task free from harassment or intimidation.

And it claims that Iraq could be disarmed without war by intelligence being shared with inspectors to allow the destruction of weapons.

"We believe that the war with Iraq is neither necessary nor justified at this stage," the letter states.

"We urge the British Government to explore every avenue to resolve the crisis in a peaceful manner.

"A war with Iraq might engulf the whole region and result in catastrophic consequences for everyone involved, including harm to community relations in cities such as our own."

The last time a joint statement was issued by so many of Derby's religious leaders was during the Gulf War in 1991. The various signatories reached agreement on the wording of the letter through a meeting last Monday and via e-mail.

Mr Turner said: "The views of the people who have signed this letter represent the majority of people in this city. I hope that the Prime Minister will take this letter as an indication of what Derby people feel about the possibility of war at this stage."

The Bishop has signed a similar joint statement with other Anglican bishops calling for weapons inspectors to be allowed to continue their work.

He said: "Military action outside the United Nations represents a serious risk to world security as well as a threat to harmony in local community relations.

"By jointly writing this letter, I hope, along with the other signatories, to strengthen the bonds and the solidarity between the faith communities in Derby.

"We were quick to agree that sending the letter was the right thing to do, adding yet another group of voices strongly urging caution."

The chairman of the Jamia Mosque in Rosehill Street, Mohammed Rasab Khan, feared, however, that the letter would have little impact on Government policy.

He said: "At the end of the day, the Prime Minister has the power to do what he wants, but it is important that we speak out all the same."

  • The opinions of more than 1,200 Derbyshire residents will be delivered to Tony Blair by county MPs today.

    People in several towns across the county signed a petition on Saturday, to campaign against war with Iraq.

    Patrick McLoughlin, Tom Levitt and Judy Mallaber, MPs for West Derbyshire, High Peak and Alfreton, will present the petition to Mr Blair.

    United - all in good faith

  • Councillor Fareed Hussain, Derby City Council.
  • The Rt Rev Jonathan Bailey, Bishop of Derby.
  • Raj Bali, president, Hindu Temple, Normanton Road, Derby.
  • The Rev Wesley Blakey, chairman, Notts and Derby Methodist Church.
  • The Rev Malcolm Hanson, moderator, East Midlands Synod, United Reformed Church.
  • Major John Needham, East Midlands divisional commander, Salvation Army.
  • The Rev Steve Mantle, regional minister, East Midlands Baptist Association.
  • The Rt Rev Malcolm McMahon, Roman Catholic Bishop of Nottingham.
  • Mohammed Rasab, chairman, Jamia Mosque committee, Rosehill Street, Derby.
  • Dr Hardial Singh Dhillon, Sikh faith adviser, University of Derby.
  • Pam Sutton, Baha'i faith adviser, University of Derby.

    ©Copyright 2003, Evening Telegraph (Derbyshire, UK)

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