UK to build memorial to Muslim soldiers who fought in world wars

UK to build memorial to Muslim soldiers who fought in world wars
UK to build memorial to Muslim soldiers who fought in world wars

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - LONDON: The UK is building a war memorial to the millions of Muslim soldiers who served alongside British and Commonwealth forces during the two world wars, Sky News reported.

The 13.2-meter-tall monument, which has been several years in the planning, will stand at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire. Built from brick and terracotta it will be inscribed with the personal stories of the soldiers.

About 2.5 million Muslim soldiers and laborers served in the militaries of the Allied powers during the First World War and about 5.5 million in the Second World War.

Benny O’Looney, the memorial’s architect, said: “The idea is, as you approach the memorial, it draws you in. And you can see there’s more detail, more information, more craftsmanship.

“The idea is to show a panorama of the Muslim soldiers’ service in the world war from gritty 1914 — this incredible narrative of plugging the gap and saving the expeditionary forces on the Western Front.”

The inspiration for the design, which features Islamic calligraphy, came from journeys to the Indian subcontinent, O’Looney said.

The monument will be erected on a site already containing memorials to Sikhs, Gurkhas and others.

Irfan Malik, a doctor from Nottingham whose ancestors served in both world wars, said: “I’m so glad we are near to fruition now, so that we can remember this forgotten history of the Muslim soldiers in both of the great wars and looking at Muslim contributions globally as well.

“Both of my great-grandfathers — Capt. Ghulam Mohammad and Subedar (roughly equivalent to warrant officer) Mohammad Khan — were part of the Great War and my two grandfathers were part of the Second World War, serving in Burma.

“They all descended from Dulmial village, which is based in the salt range in Punjab in present-day Pakistan, a very famous military village.”

The memorial would serve as a “symbol of remembrance of those campaigns, the sacrifices made and also an opportunity to educate our younger generation to improve community cohesion in this country,” Malik said.

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