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Big guns challenge the warmongers

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The profession's leading lights have joined forces to condemn a possible war against Iraq. Charles Jencks and RIBA president Paul Hyett are spearheading a campaign of 'Architects Against the War'.

They have set out their case in a letter to a national paper, signed by luminaries such as Labour peer Lord Rogers, Frank Gehry, Sir Terry Farrell, Rem Koolhaas and Rick Mather: 'We the undersigned believe that the case for war against Iraq has not been made, that it is immoral and that it will very likely lead to an increase in international terrorism, ' the letter says. 'It is possible to imagine circumstances where pre-emptive war could be justifiable in this age of mega-terrorism. But these must be exceptional and based on concrete evidence of an immediate and severe threat. Such a showing has not been made in relation to Iraq.'

Jencks, who initiated the move, told the AJ that the profession had a crucial role to play in opposing the warmongers. 'In the contemporary world, professions have obligations as well as individuals, ' he said. 'Architecture, as a profession particularly close to the environment and to people, should take a stand. You can protest on all sorts of levels. Unless the war seems to be completely legal, it will be seen as an act of terrorism, ' he said. 'There is nothing like war - it is an irreversible step, ' he added.

Jencks said that, with only one or two exceptions, all the figures he had approached had agreed to sign. 'A couple even offered to sign it before they had read it, ' he said. And he called on other professions to follow the lead.

Hyett said he hoped the letter would help prevent military action. 'Tony Blair's position is so finely balanced at the moment that the move might just make some difference, ' he said. 'I desperately believe that we should be doing this. I believe we may be able to bring that tiny extra bit of pressure to bear.' And he appealed to others to join in the protest. 'We will all have blood on our hands if this war goes ahead, ' he said.

Fellow signatory Rick Mather said he hoped the letter would be the precursor to a larger initiative: 'I think it's very important that opposition comes from the whole profession. Support from a profession such as ours is very important to a government. It's essential to make our opinions known before it's too late. People can't believe an intelligent government could do something this insane.'

The other signatories to the letter are Will Alsop, Iraqi-born Zaha Hadid, Paul Finch, Eva Jiricna, chairman of the Architectural Association Mohsen Mostafavi, Sir Richard MacCormac, Richard Murphy, critic Kenneth Powell and president-elect George Ferguson.

Read the letter online at www. ajplus. co. uk

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