Some Muslim community leaders urge Muslims to wear the poppy

Julie Siddiqi from the Islamic Society of Britain

Some Muslim community leaders are urging British Muslims to “wear the poppy, rather than burn it” to counter claims of being unpatriotic on Remembrance Sunday.

According to the Sunday Times, some mosques are setting up poppy stalls around the country with the backing of government ministers and the Royal British Legion.

Mosques in Leeds, Leicester and Southampton will be running poppy stalls. At the Makkah mosque in Headingley, Leeds, the war dead will be commemorated at Friday prayers.

“Britain is our country,” Qari Asim, the imam, to the Sunday Times. “We should remember those who have lost their lives.”

Despite strong opposition to the poppy in the Muslim community because of Britain’s  military action in Iraq and Afghanistan, it’s thought the move is to counter claims that Muslims are “disloyal” or “unpatriotic”.

“British Muslims should be wearing poppies, not burning them,” said Julie Siddiqi, executive director of the Islamic Society of Britain and a former government adviser on women’s issues.

Siddiqi said the centenary of the Great War provided an opportunity to tell young Muslims that “we are all in this together”.

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On its website the Islamic Society of Britain said: “The time of the year has come for us to remind ourselves of those great British troops that sacrificed lives for the cause of the betterment of our great nation.

“Remembrance Day will be taking place throughout the country with many different approaches of appreciation. We urge and encourage you to become involved by participating in your local areas.

“Our main messaging is around highlighting the contributions that Muslims made and sacrifices especially during World War 1 and WW2. It is easy to forget that millions of Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs and people of other minority faiths have served in the British Armed Forces across two World Wars, facing down the hatred of Nazism and helping keep Britain safe in its direst hours of need.

Military historians estimate that about 400,000 Muslims fought in the war as part of the British Indian army.

“How can you question a whole community’s loyalty to a country when thousands [of their forefathers] died serving this country?” Siddiqi told the Sunday Times.

Similar stalls, set up by Faiths Forum for London, an interfaith charity, will operate across the week at different locations in the capital.

Mustafa Field pointed out that the poppy commemorated fallen soldiers and was not meant to be a political symbol indicating support for war.

“I’ve never felt anything negative about it,” Field said. “We want to reclaim it.”

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