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Imams tell Muslims to avoid trips to Syria and Iraq

RELIGIOUS leaders have called on British Muslims not to travel to Syria and Iraq, amid continuing fears of jihadis fleeing the country to take part in terrorism.

An open letter signed by more than 100 imams from across major theological backgrounds and cultural groups has urged British Muslim communities "to continue the generous and tireless effort to support all of those affected by the crisis in Syria and unfolding events in Iraq", but to do so "from the UK in a safe and responsible way".

The letter comes during the Islamic festival of Ramadan, but against a backdrop of tensions between the Middle East and the west.

The situation has been underlined by American officials who have stepped up security precautions amid reports two terror networks are working together on a bomb that could breach existing measures.

Concerns have also been raised after Britons, including Abdul Raqib Amin, who grew up in Aberdeen, appeared in a propaganda video for insurgent group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS).

The letter read: "As the crisis in Syria and Iraq deepens, we the under-signed have come together as a unified voice to urge the British Muslim communities not to fall prey to any form of sectarian divisions or social discord.

"Ramadan, the month of mercy, teaches us the value of unity and perseverance and we urge the British Muslim communities to continue the generous and tireless efforts to support all of those affected by the crisis in Syria and unfolding events in Iraq, but to do so from the UK in a safe and responsible way."

Qari Mohammed Asim, imam at Leeds Makka Mosque, who played a key role in organising the letter, said: "We have come together to urge British Muslim communities not to fall prey to any form of sectarian divisions or social discord."

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