UK defense ministry briefs Muslim community leaders on Iraq mission

The UK explained to Muslim community leaders ‘the purpose and scope’ of its intervention in Iraq

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The UK’s defense ministry this week briefed UK Muslim community leaders and academics about its military operations in Iraq during an exclusive event at the Ministry of Defense, the Foreign Office said in a statement on Friday.

The briefing, described as the first of its kind, came during a so-called Armed Forces Muslim Forum, which was launched in July to “enhance the partnership between the Muslim community, the Ministry of Defense and the armed forces.”

The Foreign Office’s statement said Wednesday’s event “provided a unique and privileged opportunity for senior military leaders to engage directly with key members of the community.”

The UK’s defense ministry Britain is currently engaged in the international coalition against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) but its operations are confined only to Iraq.

Chief of Defense Staff General Sir Nicholas Houghton told Muslim leaders that “the UK Armed Forces exist to protect the interests and activities of all British citizens including British Muslims.”

“There is an enormously impressive history of Muslim military service and sacrifice in the UK, the spirit of which I am proud to maintain with the Armed Forces Muslim Forum,” he said.

“The positive relationships that have been nurtured through the Forum allow us to meet today to discuss recent and current operations with much valued leaders from across the Muslim community.

“We meet in the hope that practical issues of mutual concern can be discussed and translated into beneficial action,” Gen. Houghton added.

Julie Siddiqi, Executive Director of the Islamic Society of Britain, said: “It’s been very useful it’s crucial for us to feel that we can give our concerns and feedback and to feel that they have been taken on board and taken seriously.”

“I can’t see any other country in the world where you could have something like this, so it is something we should be proud of,” she added.

Husna Ahmad of Global One said the Muslim people who attended the forum “represent some very influential organizations.”

“In terms of people being able to articulate and the depth of knowledge that people brought to the forum, that was important, so we could talk about details and express opinions. We don’t want to become just mouth pieces, and I don’t think we will,” Ahmad added.

Ahmad said the event “wasn’t like” any other Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) event she attended before.

“It felt very much like a genuinely here to understand and recognize the need to engage with Muslim communities. They recognize it’s not just one monolithic Muslim community we are a vast diaspora of Muslim communities. I was very pleased by that.”

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