British Muslims are being encouraged to wear a new ‘Poppy Hijab’ as a way of pledging their support to Britain’s armed forces and denouncing the rise of Islamic extremism.
The move is backed by the Islamic Society of Great Britain.
The organization’s President, Sughra Ahmed told the Daily Mail that the scarf was a way of “diverting attention from the angry minority of extremists who spout hatred”.
Ahmed added: “Thousands of British Muslims already wear a poppy in November. This is just another way for them to show they remember those who gave their lives for their country.
“It’s also a way for ordinary Muslim citizens to take some attention away from extremists who seem to grab the headlines.
“This symbol of quiet remembrance is the face of everyday British Islam – not the angry minority who spout hatred and offend everyone.”
The scarf was designed by Tabinda-Kauser Ishaq, a 24-year-old arts student at London’s University of the Arts.
“I hope the poppy headscarf gives Muslim women a new way to mark Remembrance Day and to help raise money for the Poppy Appeal. It’s a simple way to say you’re proudly British and proudly Muslim.”
The scarf will be officially unveiled on Friday, which marks the 100th anniversary of the awarding of the Victoria Cross (VC) for bravery to Khudadad Khan, who became the first South Asian servicemen to be honoured with the VC during the First World War.
Born in Chakwal in what was then-British India, Sepoy Khan was one of the millions of British subjects from the sub-continent to travelled to Europe to fight in the trenches of the Western Front.
A machine gunner attached to the British Army’s 129th Baluchi Regiment, Khan and his detachment had been fighting in support of the British Expeditionary Force during the opening salvos of the Great War.
During the First Battle of Ypres, Khan and his fellow Baluchis were rushed to the frontline in northern Belgium to counter a major German offensive. On 31 October, two companies of the Baluchis came under heavy and sustained attack by the Germans.
Despite being vastly outnumbered, Sepoy Khan’s machine-gun team kept their guns in action throughout the day; preventing the Germans from making a final breakthrough.
All the men were eventually killed except Khan who continued to work his gun despite being wounded.
Left to dead by the enemy, Khan eventually made it to his regiment’s base at the rear of the action.