UK ministers will ask serving Muslim soldiers to speak in schools in order to counter prejudices towards Muslims.
The plans will be discussed next week by the British government’s team on ending radicalization and extremism, according to UK-based newspaper The Independent.
Muslim servicemen and women will be asked to address school assemblies in parts of the UK that have had a substantial rise in crimes fuelled by religious hatred after British solider Lee Rigby was murdered in London by Islamist extremists in May.
An unnamed Government source quoted by The Independent said that the initiative aims to show that practicing Islam is compatible with being a loyal citizen and serving in the British military.
“This is an opportunity for men and women in uniform today – Muslim and non-Muslim – to go into schools and show that people of all faiths are serving alongside each other in our armed forces,” said the source, according to the newspaper.
“We have got to defeat the argument that the West is at war with Islam. Everything we do has to challenge that misconception.”
Muslim soldiers serving in the British army is not a new thing.
In the First World War, hundreds of thousands of Muslim soldiers played an important role in fighting for the UK.
During the Second World War, Winston Churchill wrote in a letter addressed to U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt: “We must not on any account break with the Moslems [sic], who represent a hundred million people, and the main army elements on which we must rely for the immediate fighting.”
Approximately 650 Muslim soldiers are currently enlisted in the British army, and many have served in the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.