Two south west London mosques welcomed a government minister earlier today in a show of unity and as part of the MoD’s bid to improve diversity in the Armed Forces.
Minister of state for defence, Rt Hon Earl Howe, visited the Baitul Futuh mosque in Morden – the largest mosque in Western Europe – and was shown around by Imam Qudoos.
Following a brief tour of the Muslim Television Ahmadiyya studios adjacent to the Baitul Futuh mosque, Lord Howe met with His Holiness Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad at the London Mosque in Southfields.
Lord Howe said: “The message I would take away is of the really good work that Muslim leaders are doing in this part of London and indeed broadcasting all over the world the messages of peaceful Islam.
“Amidst all the negative press we read on Islam, I think it’s important to counter that with statements about what people are really doing and what they really believe.”
Lord Howe said his visit aimed to build relations between the Armed Forces and the Muslim community, whom he believes share common values and principles.
It is part of an ongoing effort within the Ministry of Defence to increase the proportion of Armed Forces recruits from a black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) background to 10% – in line with the society it serves.
Lord Howe said that they are focusing on the Muslim population in particular, and that he hopes the Armed Forces could inspire the best in the children in the community.
He said: “We are living in very dangerous times, perhaps more dangerous than they have been for some years and it is up to these good community leaders and people such as me to trump it with what is positive.