Churches Together in Britain and Ireland and The Muslim Council of Britain have today issued this joint statement: Over recent months, there have been many expressions of concern from both Christian and Muslim leaders about the developing crisis over Iraq. They encouraged all involved to weigh carefully the human costs and other likely consequences of war, pleaded for the UN process to be respected in the interests of upholding international law, and counselled that another way of ensuring Iraq's compliance with UN Resolutions might be identified and agreed - while being firm in their abhorrence at the nature of the Saddam Hussein regime. This resort to war reflects, therefore, our collective failure. The military action that began today is not something that either faith community wanted to see. It is entirely contrary to their hopes and prayers. As representatives of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland and The Muslim Council, we stand together in our desire to see military action ended as quickly as possible. In this time of crisis and deep disappointment, it is vitally important that, despite the occasional unhappy use of 'crusade' anguage by some American political leaders, none should see the conflict as one between faiths. Both here and in Iraq more than one faith community is present. Relationships between our own religious communities could suffer from rising tension in the wake of hostilities developing between what, sadly, many in the world see as the 'Christian West' and 'Muslim East'. We must exercise the utmost caution to prevent opportunist elements from exploiting this state of affairs. Indeed, now that war has started, there is an even greater responsibility for Christians and Muslims to maintain bonds of harmony one with another and to pray for all caught up in the conflict. Advice on contacting local churches and mosques can be sought from The Muslim Council and Churches Together in Britain and Ireland. Signed on behalf of CTBI Dr David Goodbourn General Secretary of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland Signed on behalf of MCB Iqbal AKM Sacranie Secretary General of The Muslim Council of Britain
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