England star Ali urges UK Muslims to shun Islamic State

ENGLAND cricketer Moeen Ali has once again stepped into the international political arena after he “strongly advised” young British Muslims not to join Islamic State (IS) groups abroad.

Devout Muslim Ali, 27, who has secured a place with the England Test team throughout this summer after a series of impressive performances, admitted that he understood Muslims being upset about some of things going on in Syria.

But he said estimates that up to 500 British Muslims had gone to fight with IS and other groups in Syria and Iraq were “a little bit worrying”, adding that he “would strongly advise them not to go”.

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The spin bowler, who plays for Worcestershire, said: “As Muslims we need to understand the ruling behind [whether] guys can go [to fight]. From my understanding... we’re not allowed to go and fight.

“We’ve got to be patient as Muslims.”

On Syria, he added: “I obviously understand they’re in a situation where they’re quite hurt about seeing these sorts of things, (however) you could be on your way there and get caught and be in jail for so long. It’s a shame.”

Speaking about IS atrocities against Christians and Yazidis in northern Iraq, Ali said: “I try and say: ‘This is not Islam, this is just being people brainwashed or whatever’... If you look at Islam, it condemns this sort of thing.”

Earlier this summer, Ali, who is of Pakistani descent, found himself in trouble with cricket authorities for wearing “Save Gaza” and “Free Palestine” wristbands on the second day of the Third Test against India.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) confirmed that he was “warned not to wear the bands again”, although Ali said he was surprised by the reaction.

He said: “I didn’t realise it was going to be such a big thing, to be honest. I just had it on [in the dressing room] and didn’t take it off.

“I didn’t actually know [the ICC rules]. I knew there was some sort of thing but it’s not something I really was thinking about.”

Last Sunday, Ali was booed by Indian supporters at Edgbaston in Birmingham during an England-India one-day international.

Professional Cricketers’ Association chief executive Angus Porter initially urged Ali to “take it [the booing] as a positive” adding: “You’d rather be booed than ignored.”

But later Mr Porter stressed that “in no way was I trying to trivialise the matter”.

Describing himself as a Muslim but also “very English”, Ali accused the media of treating Islam “unfairly” and said Muslims “get given more of a bad name”.

He went on: “If something happens with Muslims, it’s always ‘This Muslim has done this’ and never ‘This person has done this’.

“The word ‘Muslim’ has to be in there. If it was a non-Muslim, it wouldn’t matter what religion he was. [The media] is a little bit biased.”

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