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Welby: No return to ‘war on terror’

17 October 2014

THERE can be no return to the "war on terror", but limited military action is required to resist Islamist terrorism, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said.

Writing in the magazine Prospect, Archbishop Welby said that violence by itself achieved nothing, but it should be used sparingly to create "safe space" to defeat violent jihadism by theological means.

"Nobody should be calling for a 'war on terror' - we tried that and it fed what we feared. Nor are we in a conflict of civilisations," he wrote. "Our struggle is for the ideas of human flourishing both now and eternally, of mutual love and respect."

In the House of Lords earlier this month, the Archbishop voted for air strikes against Islamic State in Iraq, but argued that the religious aspects of the conflict required ideological warfare. "Religious justifications of violence must be robustly refuted," he said.

He also warned that military intervention by the West was often seen as a return to the Crusades by Muslim-majority countries. None the less, he noted that both Muslims and Christians had been victims of this global conflict.

Sukkot campaign. In response to the continuing displacement of millions of people across the Middle East, Christian, Jewish, and Muslim leaders have launched a campaign to persuade the UK Government to take in more refugees from Iraq and Syria.

On 8 October, at the start of the Jewish festival of Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles), the Area Bishop of Croydon, the Rt Revd Jonathan Clark, and the former Bishop of Worcester, Dr Peter Selby, joined with leaders of the other faiths in calling for the number of refugees resettled each year to be doubled.

The UK accepts 750 refugees through a UN programme. The Season of Sanctuary campaign, which has been organised by Citizens UK, wants the Government to increase that figure to 1500.

During Sukkot, mixed-faith groups of campaigners will take part in the tradition of constructing a temporary shelter to remember the refugee experiences of their ancestors. The activists say if just 15 local authorities promised to find room for 50 more refugees, the UK could double its annual intake.

Dr Selby said: "Here is a chance for our country to reclaim its tradition of hospitality and sanctuary by welcoming people whose claim on our compassion is beyond question. In the process, we shall also be helping some of the poorest countries who are bearing the largest burdens of refugee support."

A community organiser with Citizens UK, Ben Pollard, said on Wednesday that Britain's history of welcoming refugees was under threat from anti-immigration politicians, including many from UKIP.

In June, it was revealed that only 24 Syrians had been resettled in the UK as part of the Government's scheme for the relocation of vulnerable persons. Mr Pollard argued that this could, and should, be dramatically increased. "Germany has made a commitment to resettle 10,000 a year. So, where there is political will, it can prioritised."

Citizens UK is keen to work with local communities, so that refugees would be welcomed into an area rather than imposed by central government.

Mr Pollard said that some councils had already responded, including Kingston upon Thames, in south-west London, which has agreed to offer sanctuary to 50 Syrian refugees because of a local interfaith campaign.

You can sign Citizens UK's petition here

Question of the week: Should the UK take in more refugees fleeing Islamic State's terrorists? 

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