Ex-chancellor Sajid Javid calls for Muslim war memorial

3 weeks ago 23

Sajid JavidImage source, Reuters

By Emaan Warraich

BBC News

Former Chancellor Sir Sajid Javid is calling for a memorial to honour Muslims who fought for Britain during World War One and Two.

Sir Sajid told the BBC that around 140,000 Muslims had "made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedom".

He said a memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire would "help honour the fallen and educate future generations".

Earlier this week, he urged chancellor Jeremy Hunt to back the proposal.

Mr Hunt replied that it was right to honour the sacrifices of those who fought for freedom, but did not commit to providing money for a memorial.

He added that his officials would "be happy to engage with him to identify how best the government can help make this vision a reality".

The campaign for a Muslim memorial - the World Wars Muslim Memorial Trust - was inspired by Dr Irfan Malik and started in 2015 by Tazi Husain, who died a year later.

Both men felt that in the Centenary commemoration of World War One, the contribution of Muslim soldiers, had been largely forgotten.

The trust aims to raise £1,000,000 for the construction of the memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum.

In 2023 the National Memorial Arboretum Landscapes and Memorials Committee granted permission in principle, subject to final design, for the memorial proposed by the World Wars Muslim Memorial Trust.

National Memorial Arboretum Lead Mark Ellis said: "We wish them the very best in their fundraising efforts and look forward to this fitting tribute to the service and sacrifice of Muslim service personnel being installed and dedicated in the future."

Image source, PA Media

Image caption,

The National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire is home to 400 memorials including tributes to Sikh soldiers who served during World War One and members of the Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women.

Sir Sajid told the BBC that the British Armed Forces was "renowned for people of different heritage and backgrounds fighting together in common cause - this includes Muslims, who have a proud history of service.

"The National Memorial Arboretum holds a special place in national life and already does so much to commemorate different communities who bravely served.

"Muslim service also deserves recognition. A new powerful symbol... will help honour the fallen and educate future generations.

"I hope the chancellor will help make this vision a reality at the Spring Budget."

Image source, FPG/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Image caption,

Indian troops serving with the British army pray outside the Shah Jahan Mosque in Woking, Surrey

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission pays tribute to the Muslim soldiers contributions by holding the names in their records and caring for their graves and memorials.

The commission said it was aware of World Wars Muslim Memorial Trust's ambition and said that if a decision moves forward they said they would be happy to share their expertise.

A spokesperson for the commission said: "We regularly collaborate with religion and worldview communities to remember the diverse faiths, beliefs and worldviews held by of all those who gave their lives in the conflicts of the First and Second World Wars."

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