Islamic history, Political comment, Syrian history

Forced religious conversion and marriage in Syria and Iraq; a couple of emails

At the moment I’m conducting a campaign on the above subject, that combined with events in Gaza means I’m not blogging as regularly. To rectify this I’ll post a copy of a couple of an emails I have sent. First to the Bristol Social Forum site, which stipulate no politics or accusation so it is somewhat watered down:

Forced religious conversions and marriages in Iraq and Syria

Because the situation is urgent and because the British government is in a position to act; I decided to combine the issues of forced marriage and forced religious conversions in Iraq and Syria.

Over the weekend I contacted the various religious groups in Bristol with regards to forced conversion of Christians in Iraq.

In the light of the considerable evidence, that it is people from outside those countries, who are responsible for the above, I felt it was important to draw attention to the plight of local inhabitants.

The Christian inhabitants of both Syria and Iraq have lived there for centuries and during that time have endured periods of discrimination by the West. An example was in the mid 19th century, when Britain and France fought a proxy war, through the Muslim and Christian populations of Lebanon.

The media makes continued references to the re-institution of a Caliphate in Iraq and Syria, whereby the Christian populations are required to pay extra taxes to maintain their faith; or convert to Islam.

The first Caliphate was established after the death of the Prophet Mohammed and was a way of spreading Islamic ideology. During this period many were disillusioned, with their faith and did convert voluntarily or to avoid the extra taxation imposed, often to improve the infrastructure.

There is no evidence, that the taxes raised today will be used constructively. Further there isn’t a spiritual leader or Caliph to hold the invaders accountable for their actions.

It is now the 21st century and the nation state is well established in both Iraq and Syria. There are many Islamic nation states, that are governed according to the strict principles of Islam, worth mentioning, because this is the reason people are using as a justification for entering Iraq and Syria by force.

A Woman’s Hour article (July 4th and still available on i player) explored the issue of forced marriages in Iraq and Syria. The commentator Alison Baily described how people travelled to Raqqa in Syria and compelled the local women to dress a certain way and often into marriage; many then move to another region and abandon their brides. If the local people disobey, they are subjected to a ”lashing”.

This struck a particular cord as I visited Raqqa in 2005 and was befriended by a young woman, who was studying in Aleppo university. Her major concern was, that Britain thought all Syrians were terrorists and would bomb them as they had in Iraq.

Though she is no doubt married by now, I can’t help worrying about the people I met in Raqqa, who were simply ordinary Muslims or Christians.

Even since Alison Baily’s report, life has changed in Iraq as the invaders have gained more territory in and around the major oil producing town of Mosul. The ultimatum to convert to Islam or leave the country was issued to Iraqi Christians at the weekend and is well documented.

The issue of forced mariages is not new as President Maliki lowered the age of consent to 9 years, a symbolic age, that extends back through the centuries; he also abolished many of the civil rights, held by Iraqi people. Unfortunately we do not have a say in the Iraqi or Syrian governments but do with our own.

The British government admit there are people leaving Britain for Iraq and Syria, so please contact your elected representatives and any religious group you might belong to and register your disapproval for the seemingly barbaric acts, which are occurring in Iraq and Syria. Or alternatively contact the Home Office directly at:

Theresa May, H.O.
2 Marsham St,

A letter to the Bristol Evening Post in answer to an article describing how young woman were attending demos in fo Palestine in Bristol

Prior to the British and French mandates the whole territory was Greater Syria, The state socialist orientated Ba’ath party of Syria, supports Arab nationalism and is bitterly opposed to Zionist colonisation of, what it considers to be Syrian territory. This accounts for its continued intervention in the region.

I feel for the Palestinians but wish there was as much consideration for their sisters in Syria, where forced marriages and lashings occur. It is a complex situation but the people, who are said to be re-constituting a Caliphate system in Raqqa are foreign invaders, who are paid by their respective governments.

This is the basis for the ancient Caliphates but the system still requires a Caliph or spiritual leader and the position does not exist. In addition according to the renowned author Karen Armstrong, by the 9th and 10th centuries, the majority of Muslims did not believe, that the Caliphates were adhering to Quranic principles.

The academic Alison Baily reported on Women’s Hour on July 4th, about the barbaric practices towards women, conducted by the invading forces in Raqqa, Syria.

I visited Raqqa in 2005 and found to be hospitable and inhabited by moderate Muslims and other cultural groups.

Neither the Syrian brothers or Hamas would allow such atrocities to occur and it is an indictment of the British system, that British citizens and residents are visiting Syria and Iraq to inflict pain and suffering on the female populations there.

No to NATO!!

There will be a NATO summit held in Newport and Wales is none to pleased. We plan to oppose this debacle. If you are interested see for further info.


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