100 Years On – Remembering Armistice Day
This Sunday, our country comes together to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War. We remember the momentous occasion for what it is: the end to a bloody conflict that cost so many lives and shaped the course of our modern world.
Well before the centenary, the Muslim Council of Britain led a campaign to highlight that amongst the tens of millions of people who served between 1914 and 1918, 2.5 million of them were Muslim soldiers and labourers.
As colonial subjects, they spanned continents including countries in sub-saharan and West Africa, as well as Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Libya, Somalia, India, China and Russia. As research grows, so does public knowledge of the experiences and sacrifices of these Muslim contingents.
In 2009, the Muslim Council of Britain published a report entitled ‘Remembering the Brave’ highlighting the historic and contemporary contribution of Muslims in the Armed Forces. It affirmed that ‘we are all proud to be part of a nation that actively encourages dissent and scrutiny of our government while maintaining a strong support for the welfare of the men and women who are sent to fight on our behalf.’ Like their fellow citizens, the report affirmed that ’British Muslims tend to take the sophisticated enough stand to support our troops while dissenting from the government’s decision to send those troops to controversial conflicts.’
The Muslim Council of Britain’s Secretary General Harun Khan, said: “In today’s political climate where division and hatred grows, we should remember that Muslims and other minorities fought alongside fellow Britons. There are names etched across British and Commonwealth war memorials around the world that are visibly Muslim, Hindu, Sikh or of other faiths too.”
Harun Khan added: “While we commemorate the sacrifice of all those who gave their lives in the First World War, we must also reflect on the war and its aftermath itself. The history of the UK and the First World War cannot be told without telling their story, and the story of how the Empire they were part of, for good or worse, still affects the Britain we live in today.”