Britons Recognize Muslims WWI Hero

CAIRO –Acknowledging the heroism of Muslims during the First World War, British former army chiefs have called for recognizing the first Muslim soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross, in a bid to reveal the true face of Muslims whose image has been tarnished by the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (ISIL).

“The quiet dignity of our commemoration of Khudadad Khan’s bravery and service is perhaps the most powerful riposte we could possibly send to the sickening extremism of ISIL,” Dilwar Hussain, a Muslim academic and one of the signatories of the letter wrote to the Telegraph on Friday, October 31.

Hussain is one of the signatories of a letter sent to the Telegraph by former army chief Lord Dannatt and General Sir David Richards who called for a “greater recognition” of Sepoy Khudadad Khan, the first Muslim soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross.

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The letter, signed by group of peers, MPs, historians and religious leaders, calls for educating children on the role played by Muslim troops in WWI.

Khudadad Khan, a machine gunner in an Indian colonial regiment, fought on the Western front during WWI in support of the British Expeditionary Force.

Khan was a member of the 129th Baluchis regiment fighting near in Belgium.

On 31st October, 1914, at Hollebeke, Sepoy Khudadad carried on firing the gun on his own, after the five other men of his gun detachment were killed.

Despite having been wounded, he fought on long enough to hold off an enemy advance until Indian and British reinforcements arrived. He was awarded the highest military award for gallantry by King George V in December that year.

According to the letter, acknowledging the role of more than 400,000 Muslim soldiers fought for Britain in WWI is vital to “fully understand the multi-ethnic Britain that we are today”.

“Exemplified Courage”

Among the signatories of the letter were Lord Ashdown, the formal Liberal Democrats leader, Sir Hew Strachan, the military historian, Baroness Warsi, the former Coalition minister and Sughra Ahmed, president of the Islamic Society of Britain.

“We wish today to highlight one man whose service exemplified the courage of many who served in the First World War,” they wrote.

A commemorative stone for the Muslim hero, Khan, will be laid at the National Memorial Arboretum in his honor.

“In honoring the courage of Khudadad Khan we not only remember our shared history, we are also cherish the long tradition of Muslims fighting bravely alongside British soldiers, for a just cause in the service of this country,” Lord Ahmad, the Communities Minister, said.

Earlier this week, British Muslim women have been urged to wear a new “Poppy Hijab” as a way to declare their pride in being British and Muslim, to mark 100 years since the first Muslim soldier was awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery during WWI.

Each year on November 11th, the British people and the Commonwealth people stand still for two minutes; in recognition of all those who sacrificed their lives during WWI.

Just like soldiers of other faith groups, Muslims paid with their blood for the freedom Great Britain enjoys and cherishes today.

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