Dedicated Memorial for Muslim Soldiers Who Fought in World Wars

A divisive debate has erupted over the government’s plans to erect a memorial honouring Muslim soldiers who fought in Britain’s wars after what was meant to be a gesture of inclusivity and recognition has morphed into a battleground within the Conservative Party. Here’s the full story.

Muslim Memorial

With Islamophobia, a hot-button topic in the UK within recent weeks, following outbursts from former Conservative MP Lee Anderson and former Home Secretary Suella Braverman attacking Muslims and their apparent inability to integrate into British society.

The Conservative government’s decision to erect a memorial for Muslims who fought in the world wars has sparked controversy within the party. 

In privately shared messages, which The Guardian exposed, Conservative MPs have revealed deep-seated reservations regarding the necessity of a memorial dedicated explicitly to Muslim soldiers. 

£1 Million Memorial

Marco Longhi and Jill Mortimer, elected in 2019, raised eyebrows with their questioning of the proposal, which followed Jeremy Hunt’s budget announcement allocating £1 million for the Muslim soldiers’ memorial.

In his speech, the Chancellor stated, “Whatever your faith or colour or class, this country will never forget the sacrifices made for our future.”

This announcement triggered a chorus of dissent from within the Conservative ranks after the plan for the memorial was posted in a Conservative MPs WhatsApp group.

“They Die for Their Country”

In the messages seen by The Guardian, Longhi queries, “So is the memorial for all religious groupings or for all religions? When soldiers die at war they die for their country, irrespective of religion.”

Longhi continues, “Furthermore, why wouldn’t the PM announce this? I still fail to see how this is about fiscal policy.” In later remarks, Mortimer speaks of the headstones from the First World War, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, and praises their “simplistic” and “dignified” design. 

She then calls for memorials around the UK to be based on the same ethos, stating the headstones were “All the same regardless of rank, race or religion. The only differences marked by a simple symbol or in the inscription. I think he had the right idea – to single peoples out is to reinforce division.”

History of Controversy

These remarks have garnered considerable controversy following other contentious statements by former deputy Tory chairman Lee Anderson.

Anderson had previously told GB News that the Labour mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, had “given our capital city away to his mates,” in roundly condemned remarks that Anderson refused to apologise for.  Anderson was subsequently suspended from the Conservative Party whip in another blow to the party’s already fractious unity.

Anderson’s refusal to apologise for his incendiary comments resonates with those who question the need for a separate memorial for Muslim soldiers, such as Longhi, who is a close confidant of Andersons. 

Return to the Fold

Longhi had previously justified Anderson’s remarks, telling the BBC, “I think it’s right that Lee works this out and I would like to see him return in the Conservative fold as soon as possible.”

Mortimer has also defended Anderson’s remarks in leaked WhatsApp messages, stating that “Lee Anderson’s suspension is the final nail in the party’s coffin.”

These divisions within the Conservative Party are all the more surprising considering that Sajid Javid, a former Conservative Chancellor, put forward the planned memorial for Muslim soldiers. 

Muslim Contributions

Despite the discord, there remains a compelling case for recognizing the contributions of Muslim soldiers to Britain’s wartime efforts.

During the two world wars, approximately 750,000 Muslims from the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East, and North Africa bravely fought for the United Kingdom. The exact number of Muslim casualties is not known, according to the National Muslim War Memorial Trust.

Around the UK, other memorials exist for soldiers who fought for the UK from religious backgrounds as disparate as Catholics, Sikhs, and Hindus. 

Litmus Test

As the debate rages on, the proposed memorial for Muslim soldiers who fought for Britain serves more as a litmus test for the Conservative party’s commitment to confronting issues of Islamophobia within their ranks. 

However, the factional infighting within the Conservative Party over culture war issues does not diminish the sacrifices of thousands of Muslims from all over the British Empire who answered the call to fight for the UK. 

For those who gave up everything to fight for a cause they believed in, many around the country, and even some within the Conservative Party, believe that a monument to their bravery is the least this country can do.

The post Dedicated Memorial for Muslim Soldiers Who Fought in World Wars first appeared on Edge Media.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / I T S.

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