REVEALED: True scale of Muslim soldiers in world war amid hate crime rise - The Solihull Observer

REVEALED: True scale of Muslim soldiers in world war amid hate crime rise

Felix Nobes 22nd Nov, 2017   0

THE untold story of the millions of Muslims who fought for the Allies in World War One was revealed to members of an anti-hate group.

The West Midlands Together campaign group heard from Hayyan Bhabha, director of ‘The Muslim Experience’ in World War One, about his researchers’ discovery of the little known scale of the contribution Muslims made in the 1914-18 conflict.

He said more than 2.5 million Muslim troops fought for the Allies in the various campaigns.

West Midlands Together was formed as a cross-party campaign for harmony and tolerance in the wake of a spike in hate crime, including following the EU referendum.

Joint founder Anthea McIntyre, Conservative member of the European Parliament for the West Midlands, said after hearing the presentation at a meeting in Birmingham: “This information is so powerful.

“It shows the extent to which we all have shared backgrounds and that we have so much more to bring us together than to keep us apart.”

Mr Bhabba said the project was the first to ask for access to WW1 documents in the Farsi, Arabic, Urdu and Hebrew languages from 377 locations in 19 countries.

He said research had unearthed many fascinating stories about the war service of people from a range of faiths.

He said: “These stories can be a very powerful tool in showing young people from different religious and ethnic backgrounds that this is their country and their families are part of its heritage and history.”

The group has begun organising interfaith trips to the battlefields and war graves of northern France.

Mr Bhabha said the All Party Parliamentary Group of British Muslims, of which he is secretary, will also be working with colleagues to establish consensus in finding a definition of Islamophobia that the group hopes the government will adopt.

Nasar Iqbal of We Stand United, an initiative against hate crime in the West Midlands spoke of his organisation’s work in inviting people to come forward with their experiences.

He said these accounts would be shared via text and video on social media, with viewers asked to comment and add their own stories.

According to a West Midlands Police report, in the 2016/17 reporting period, recorded hate crime and non-crime incidents totalled 4,758, a 10.47 per cent increase on 2015/16.

The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, David Jamieson, said: “We are all extremely proud that the West Midlands is a diverse region, where people from different backgrounds and cultures get on. That will not be allowed to change.

“Hate crime is not acceptable and tackling the crime is a priority of mine and West Midlands Police have a zero-tolerance policy on it.

“If it is reported it will be investigated.

“People in the West Midlands have different views on certain issues, but one thing that unites us all is that we are tolerant, decent people who get on with each other. “Hate crimes have been committed by a tiny minority of people.

“If you are a victim of, or see any evidence of hate crime please report it. It is only by reporting the crime that we can tackle it.

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