UK: Muslim GP attends ceremony with David Cameron marking role of overseas soldiers in First World War

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Some 145 of the 628 Victoria Crosses – the highest military decoration – awarded during the First World War were given to servicemen born overseas who fought for Britain.

Overseas servicemen who fought alongside British troops should be remembered for their role in the First World War, says a Muslim GP.

Dr Irfan Malik, of Carlton, spoke after attending a ceremony at the National Memorial Arboretum yesterday to mark their contribution to the Allied Forces as part of the centenary commemorations.

Some 145 of the 628 Victoria Crosses – the highest military decoration – awarded during the First World War were given to servicemen born overseas who fought for Britain.

Specially designed paving stones have been laid at the Arboretum in Staffordshire to mark each of the 145 VCs awarded, including their name, rank and regiment of the recipient and the date the medal was won.

Dr Malik, 46, general secretary of the Nottingham Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, said: “It’s very important to recognise the commitment from overseas soldiers because they helped the British Empire at that time.

“Different religions and races fought with the Allies for one cause, which not a lot of people in Britain realise.

“It’s very important to honour that and to remember their efforts as part of the memorial.

Dad-of-two Dr Malik, whose parents were born in Pakistan, has lived his whole life in Nottingham and is a GP at Elmswood Surgery in Sherwood.

He has written books about Muslim contributions in the war and had a special interest in three of the VC recipients from Pakistan – Khudadad Khan, Mir Dast and Shahamad Khan.

Dr Malik said the war contributions of the Commonwealth countries, including India, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, had an important role in developing race relations. “A hundred years ago all the religions fought together – Hindus, Christians, Sikhs and Muslims.

“They might have had separate battalions or regiments but they fought for the same cause – so why can’t different religions live together peacefully in this age?

“We want to encourage integration and getting along with other religions, as well as to spread the message of Islam, which is a religion of peace.

“I felt an immense pride to be invited because it’s such a privilege to represent the soldiers of present day Pakistan who received this honour 100 years ago.”Dr Andrew Mumford, assistant professor of politics and international relations at the University of Nottingham, said: “We can’t just look at the First World War as the trenches of Belgium and France.

“If you look at the other more under-appreciated theatres of conflict, especially around the Middle East and modern-day Turkey, there was a significant proportion of troops from the old Empire that contributed towards the Allied victory.”

Mr Cameron said the stones provided “a permanent memorial to heroes from 19 different countries around the Commonwealth whose bravery and service won them the Victoria Cross”.

http://www.nottinghampost.com/Muslim-GP-attends-ceremony-David-Cameron-marking/story-26126193-detail/story.html

atharUK: Muslim GP attends ceremony with David Cameron marking role of overseas soldiers in First World War