Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 29 November 2014

One million UK Muslims 'wear poppy'

More than half of Pakistanis and 46% of Bangladeshis in Britain say they wear the poppy, research has found
More than half of Pakistanis and 46% of Bangladeshis in Britain say they wear the poppy, research has found

Anti-poppy extremists like radical preacher Anjem Choudary hold "marginal" views, a think-tank has said, as new figures suggest more than a million British Muslims support wearing the emblem to mark Remembrance Day.

Choudary earlier this week said all Islamic leaders who encourage Muslims to wear or sell poppies would "burn in hell-fire".

But fi gures from the latest Ethnic Minority British Election Survey (EMBES), in an Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC) study published by the Oxford University Press, show more than half or 53% of Pakistanis and 46% of Bangladeshis in Britain say they wear the poppy.

According to t hink-tank British Future, this equates to around 800,000 poppy-wearers from these two communities alone, who make up two-thirds of Britain's 2.7 million Muslims. This figure grows to more than a million once the remainder of Britain's Muslim community is considered.

British Future director Sunder Katwala said: " Anjem Choudary claims that no real Muslim could ever wear a poppy. He accuses those who do of being 'apostates, lackeys and bootlickers'. But these findings clearly show his claim is nonsense.

"In fact, what the new findings show is that more than a million British Muslims express support for Remembrance Day and wearing the poppy.

"As they quietly join in our solemn national acts of remembrance, how sick and tired they must be of the divisive image that the noisy extremists present of their faith."

Protests in the past by radical groups, including those linked to Choudary, have seen fanatics set fire to paper poppies, fuelling a perception among some that Muslims are unpatriotic or disloyal.

The figures come as Julie Siddiqui, executive director of the Islamic Society of Britain, joined Imams and the London Faith Forum to urge more British Muslims to wear poppies and support Remembrance Day.

Dilwar Hussein, chair of charity New Horizons in British Islam, said: "These figures show that most ordinary British men and women of Muslim background are just like the rest of us when it comes to Remembrance Day.

"As they go about their daily business as British citizens we should acknowledge this quiet yet profound form of integration.

"My grandfather served in the British army and was a Prisoner of War in Asia. Like a million other British Muslims, I feel it is important to remember and honour the sacrifice of those who fell while defending us. That's why I wear my poppy with pride."

The EMBES figures show significant support for Remembrance Day among ethnic minorities more generally, with 62% of all minorities saying they wear a poppy for Remembrance Day.

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