A Nottingham Mosque and several Muslim-owned businesses have signed the Armed Forces Covenant, which means they are now committed to supporting members of the military.
The government announced that the Karimia Mosque formally recognised “the important role which the Armed Forces play in the UK and abroad” in a ceremony on Tuesday.
It said 16 local Muslim-owned businesses, from taxi firms like DG Cars to cargo companies such as MSA Transport, followed the mosque’s lead by signing the pledge which the government enshrined in law as a promise from the nation that the Forces community would be treated fairly.
As well as formalising their support for the Armed Forces, these businesses will now look to employ veterans and facilitate the needs of Army Reserves.
Defence Minister Mark Lancaster said: “Karimia Mosque’s support is incredibly significant for the proud relationship between our Armed Forces and the Muslim community, and it has already paved the way for Muslim-owned businesses across Nottinghamshire to follow suit. That means opportunities for our people, and that these businesses will benefit from the unique skills and experience which the military community offers.”
Dr Musharraf Hussain, Chief Imam and CEO Karimia Institute, said: “We believe that the defence and security of our country is an important job. Those engaged in that task must be respected, supported and appreciated. Muslims are one of the youngest communities in Britain therefore we are encouraging them to join and play their role in defending our country.
“Thousands of Muslims died for Great Britain during the First and Second World Wars. I think, by signing the Covenant, we are honouring those heroes too. We are making a solemn promise to show and encourage support for the Armed Forces community. We want the Muslim community to recognise and remember the sacrifices the Armed Forces have made and continue to do so.”
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Commander of 7th Infantry Brigade, Brigadier Charlie Collins, added: “We have built a strong friendship with Dr Hussain and members of the Karimia Institute. Recently we enjoyed hosting two separate weekend events where the Muslim community spent time with our Reservists and Army Cadet Adult Instructors to find out about life in the Army and the Army Cadet Force. I am sure that going forward, we will be able to do a lot of great work together.
In September Leicester Central Mosque became the first mosque in the UK to sign a pledge to support the British Armed Forces.
Britain’s largest Muslim umbrella organisation, the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), has also approved of the pledge and said it hoped many more UK mosques would join in.
The move is likely to prove controversial within Muslim communities given the Armed Forces’ role in recent wars against Muslim nations such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, which have led to hundreds of thousands of deaths.
Due to these invasions, occupations and bombing campaigns many British Muslims shun the Armed Forces and accuse them of waging war against Muslims, and being responsible for the shedding of a huge amount of Muslim blood.
The Armed Forces Covenant is an agreement between the armed forces, the nation and the government. It says that members of the armed forces should face no disadvantage compared to other citizens in the provision of public and commercial services, and that special consideration is appropriate in some cases, especially for those who have given the most such as the injured or the bereaved.
The covenant encourages local communities to support the armed forces and to nurture public understanding and awareness among the public of issues affecting the Armed Forces community, and to recognise and remember the sacrifices faced by the Armed Forces.