War memorials to commemorate Muslims to be erected

Noor Inayat Khan. Editorial credit: Olga Popova

A new charity has been formed to erect national war memorials to commemorate the services of Muslim personnel to Britain’s Armed Forces during the two World Wars and subsequent conflicts.

The first war memorial will be in London at a location to be agreed with the government which is backing the idea.

The National Muslim War Memorial Trust says it aims to educate both school students and adults about the contributions of Muslims to Britain’s armed forces and their role, service and sacrifice in various theatres of war.

This second objective of the NMWMT, it says, is to dispel misconceptions and foster harmony between different people and communities.

“One of the key reasons we have set up the charity is to combat Islamophobia and people should realise the sacrifices Muslims made to keep the Union Jack flying,” said Lord Sheikh, who is the chairman of the new charity.

In World War One 2.5 million Muslims supported the allied forces, and in World War Two this increased to 5.5 million Muslims.

British troops

In both World Wars, Muslims were recognised with decorations and they won hundreds of military awards. Seven were awarded the Victoria Cross including Khudadad Khan VC who was the first non-white person to win the award in 1914, and the last Victoria Cross was received by Shar Shah in 1945.

In total, six George Crosses were awarded to Muslims, including Noor Inayat Khan GC in 1949 and Captain Mateen Ansari GC in 1946.

Noor Inayat Khan GC was the first female wireless operator sent by Britain to assist the French resistance in 1943. She was tortured by the Germans but never gave up any secret information.

And despite brutal torture, mutilation and starvation at the hands of his Japanese captors, Captain Mateen Ansari GC refused to renounce his allegiance to the British and was beheaded by the Japanese.

In recent years the army has launched several recruitment campaigns aimed at Muslims.

The percentage of British Muslims in the Army is extremely low which is at least partly down to the fact that the army has been involved in several bloody conflicts in Muslim countries in recent years.

In the past 19 years the British Army has invaded and occupied Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as bombed Libya and Syria. Hundreds of thousands of people – at a conservative estimate – have been killed in those devastating conflicts.

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.

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