Ahmed J Versi
Armed Forces Muslim Association held its annual Eid event at the RAF Northolt on October 2. Chief of Defence Personnel and President of the Armed Forces Muslim Association (AFMA), Lieutenant General Andrew Gregory, reiterated his desire to have more Muslims within the Armed Forces so that they are representative of the society that they serve and protect.
“We’re very proud that we have nearly 500 Muslims serving in the Army, Marines, Navy and RAF. The Armed Forces shares the values of the Muslim faith and protects our values at home and abroad. The values of the British Army are ones that everyone in the room can identify with; courage, loyalty, integrity, discipline, selflessness commitment and respect for others. Within the British Army we take pride in up-skilling people, giving them training and helping them to progress the careers,” he said in his keynote speech.
He said that the army has implemented a number of issues that support Muslims in the Army, from creating the AFMA to halal ration packs, and “we will continue to build on this.”
Chair of the AFMA, Captain Naveed Muhammed, said: It’s hugely important for me that the Armed Forces are celebrating events in the Islamic calendar – for the Muslim serving personnel who work tirelessly to protect the UK’s interests, and for the wider Muslim community – for them to be here today learning more about the values and aims of the Armed Forces.”
The theme of this year’s event was, ‘Our Youth, Our Future, Our Heroes, Our History’. To this end the event was attended by the Association of Muslim Schools and the Forgotten Heroes 14-19 Foundation.
Chairman from the Association of Muslim Schools, Ashfaque Chowdhury, said he wanted Muslims to join the armed forces. “I want to see some of my pupils join the Armed Forces.” He said Muslims, as part of the British society, “need to participate in protecting the country. It’s important that the Armed Forces have reached out to the Muslim community, and an important step has been taken tonight in celebrating Eid together.”
Luke Ferrier from the Forgotten Heroes 14-19 Foundation, paid tribute to the citizens of North Africa who served in the Western Front during World War I. He brought context to the relationship between the Armed Forces and the Muslim community by drawing attention to the number of Muslims who had served in World War I.
“Over 280,000 men from Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia fought in Belgium and France during World War I. As many as 45,000 never retuned home, and many more were wounded in some of the bloodiest engagements on the Western Front.”