News Article

Support network for Muslim personnel launched

A Defence Policy and Business news article

12 Oct 09

Muslims serving in the British Armed Forces will benefit from a new support network that was launched at RAF Northolt on Friday 9 October 2009.

General Sir David Richards with Group Captain Ul-Haq, Imam Asim Hafiz and Corporal Mohsin Ali Mughal

General Sir David Richards with Group Captain Ul-Haq, Imam Asim Hafiz and Corporal Mohsin Ali Mughal at the launch of the Armed Forces Muslim Association
[Picture: SAC Stewart Paterson, Crown Copyright/MOD 2009]

The Armed Forces Muslim Association (AFMA) will allow Muslims who work in the British Armed Forces to meet up with each other, chat on internet forums and ask questions of the Imam.

The association also aims to forge closer relationships with Islamic communities across the UK and its members plan to organise educational events in the community to further an understanding of the role of British Muslims in the Armed Forces.

In addition, serving Muslims will be given access to a network of local information so that they can find mosques close to their bases as well as details of local religious groups.

The AFMA will have its own website that provides a secure chat forum for members of the Forces and gives users the opportunity to put questions to Imam Asim Hafiz, Muslim Chaplain to the Armed Forces.

The Imam believes that the AFMA will provide support not only to Muslim members of the Armed Forces but also to commanding officers. He said:

"The make-up of Armed Forces is increasingly becoming a mirror of modern day Britain. We have people from all cultures, faiths and backgrounds.

"Initiatives like the Armed Forces Muslim Association will help to further boost the morale and confidence of Muslims that serve within the Services.

General Sir David Richards talking to Warrant Officer Malik

General Sir David Richards talks to Warrant Officer Malik during the launch of the Armed Forces Muslim Association
[Picture: SAC Stewart Paterson, Crown Copyright/MOD 2009]


"We can also play a crucial role in helping the Armed Forces to better understand and meet the needs of Muslims within the demands of Service life.

"We can also play a pivotal role in bridging the gap between the Muslims within the military and Muslims in the community."

The new association has been welcomed by senior military personnel. General Sir David Richards, the Army's Chief of the General Staff and patron of the Armed Forces Muslim Association, who attended the launch, said:

"I am a huge supporter of the creation of the Armed Forces Muslim Association. It reflects the growing numbers, importance and relevance of the Muslim soldiers, sailors and airmen serving the United Kingdom with such distinction today and, I have no doubt, in the future.

"It is right that these outstanding people have an organisation around which their views and aspirations can coalesce. It will also serve as a focal point for those that seek to better understand Muslims in the Armed Forces and how they might best assist them to achieve their aspirations to the common good."

The organisation's Chair, Group Captain Zahur Ul-Haq feels that the AFMA may also help to change public perceptions of Islam. He said:

"There is growing perception that Muslims are not integrated into mainstream society and are anti-establishment - this is a myth. Muslims are playing a vital role across all aspects of the political and economic environment.

"In the British Armed Forces, Muslims have been extremely successful and currently hold a number of senior positions. The fact that we are willing to die for our country is a testament of our loyalty and our desire to protect the values that we all share."




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