LONDON – A new campaign has been launched in the UK to unite people from different faiths and ethnic backgrounds who fought for Britain in the First World War, including 400,000 Muslim soldiers, as part of planning for the armistice centenary.
“Most people, Muslims included, don’t know that thousands of Muslim soldiers from present-day Pakistan fought for Britain in the First World War,” said Imam Qari Asim, the chair of the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board, The Guardian reported.
“It’s important that they do. This shared history of contribution is something that we can all commemorate in Britain, whatever our ethnicity or faith.”
Politicians from all parties, faith leaders, former military chiefs and charities are supporting Remember Together, an initiative to highlight the often forgotten service and contribution of Muslims and other faiths.
As part of the campaign, imams in mosques across the country will give remembrance-themed services at Friday prayers.
Remember Together is a joint initiative by the integration think-tank British Future and the British Legion as part of its Thank You campaign.
The campaign also highlights the fact that the backgrounds of the soldiers who fought for Britain in the First World War had much in common with those of Britain in 2018.
Sunder Katwala, the director of British Future, said: “We have seen extremists, both Anjem Choudary and Britain First, try to turn our cherished symbols of Remembrance into ammunition in their culture war. Both rely on an ignorance of our shared history when they tell Muslims and other minorities that they have no place in Britain.
“So it really matters that we commemorate the soldiers from all backgrounds who served a century ago, as more mosques, gurdwaras and other places of worship mark Remembrance this year.”
Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, the senior rabbi at Reform Judaism, said: “The bullets on the battlefields … did not discriminate between Sikhs, Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Jews, and others. One hundred years later, we honor those who fought together by remembering them together.”