11 Nov 2011
Nearly a century after the guns drew silent on the Western Front, the Muslim Council of Britain joins millions in remembering the sacrifice of Muslim and non-Muslim soldiers and civilians alike.
On this 90th anniversary of Remembrance Day, the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), the country’s leading grassroots Muslim umbrella group, joins the nation’s Muslims in remembering and honouring those who have served their country and, in many cases, paid the ultimate price for their service.
Millions of Muslims 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. We remember their valour, just as we call for restraint and justice in other arenas of conflict in the world today.
The actions of a tiny, and utterly deplorable, extremist group – which the Home Secretary has banned – should not detract from the many thousands of Muslims up and down the country who today will be, like us, remembering the fallen and honouring the contribution of both Muslim and non-Muslim alike to the safety of our great nation.
There are 600 Muslim service personnel active in the Armed Forces today (including in frontline operations).
During the Second World War, as part of the Indian Army, hundreds of thousands of Muslim soldiers fought against the German army in France and in the North and East Africa campaigns. Many were wounded, or lost their lives.
A generation before that, over one million men from ethnic minorities served in the Great War, with a very large number drawn from the Muslim villages of the Punjab in India. These Muslim soldiers participated in every major battle arena stretching from Europe and East Africa to the Middle East, where some faced fellow Muslim soldiers in the Ottoman (Turkish) Army.
Honour – izzat – was very important to these Muslim men: it was deeply embedded in their psyche. One wrote, ‘you did things which were right in your point of view even if it meant death’; the British tradition of absolute loyalty to the regiment dovetailed with these values – loyalty to the regiment was paramount.
Farooq Murad, Secretary General of the MCB, said: “I, like many other British Muslims, had relatives who fought for Britain in the World Wars. This day it is fitting we remember those who gave their lives so that we – all of us – might have our freedoms.”
“We continue to highlight the active and positive role of the Muslim contribution to our Armed Forces. We do not agree with those fringe elements who bring shame, and disrespect, upon those who have lain down their lives, by infantile stunts designed to sow the seeds of conflict.”
“It is a legitimate democratic right to debate the politics and justification of various conflicts, past and present, and there is time and place to do that. Cheap stunts which disrespect those who gave ultimate sacrifice in doing their duty with honour and valour is not the way, and it is totally against the ethos of Islam.”
To read further about the Muslim contribution to Britain’s Armed Forces, please download the MCB booklet ‘Remembering the Brave’.[ENDS]