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Iraq: Coalition Against ISIL

Part of Business of the House – in the House of Commons at 11:15 am on 26th September 2014.

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Photo of Ed Miliband Ed Miliband Leader of Her Majesty's Official Opposition, Leader of the Labour Party 11:15 am, 26th September 2014

I understand the hon. Gentleman’s long-held caution on these issues, but the point I will make is that there needs to be a comprehensive strategy.

We are not talking about a military-only solution. It is about political action, humanitarian action and wider strategic action, and I will come to that later in my remarks.

First I want to say something about the nature of ISIL. As the Prime Minister said, ISIL is not simply another terrorist organisation. We have seen, of course, its hostage-taking of innocent British citizens, and it is not just British citizens whom ISIL is threatening but Christians, Yazidis and fellow Muslims, Sunni and Shi’a, from many different countries and backgrounds—anyone who does not subscribe to its deeply perverted ideology.

If the House will allow me, I want to give one hideous example recently gathered by Amnesty International, because it is directly relevant to the decisions that we make today. On the morning of Friday 15 August, ISIL fighters assembled the residents of Kocho village in northern Iraq at the secondary school, where they separated men and boys from women and younger children. The men were then driven away to different nearby locations, where they were shot and killed. The women and children of the village were abducted and continue to be held by ISIL.

Let us be clear about what this is: ISIL is murdering Muslims. So to those who say that military action against ISIL is somehow an attack on Islam, let me just say this: I understand the anxiety, including in communities in Britain, but the truth is entirely different. It is Muslims themselves who are saying it—leading British Muslim scholars and imams recently wrote of ISIL:

“They are perpetrating the worst crimes against humanity…it is a war against all humanity.”

ISIL’s ideology has nothing to do with the peaceful religion practised by billions of people across the world and by millions of our fellow citizens, who are appalled by their actions.