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Last Updated: Saturday, 12 March, 2005, 13:27 GMT
Armed forces 'want more Muslims'
British troops in Iraq
Only 300 members of the British military are registered Muslims
The chief of the UK's armed forces has appealed for more Muslim recruits in a bid to better reflect modern Britain.

Chief of Defence Staff General Sir Michael Walker promised "fulfilling careers and high-quality training" for recruits in a speech to Muslim leaders.

He told the Muslim Council of Britain in London that he wanted the armed forces to reflect "religious, cultural and ethnic diversity".

Currently only 300 members of Britain's armed forces are registered Muslims.

Sir Michael emphasised his "personal commitment" to creating more diverse armed forces.

'Greater recognition'

He also paid tribute to the work the council had done in helping build "better community relations and increase knowledge and understanding of the Muslim faith within British society.

"The MCB has made a real and lasting contribution to the creation of a just and tolerant society," he said.

The general's appearance at the MCB meeting was part of the Ministry of Defence's attempts to show they were serious about recruiting more Muslims.

The establishment of the post of a Muslim adviser to the MoD and the recently proposed appointment of an imam to cater for the spiritual welfare of British Muslim recruits are both commendable steps
Iqbal Sacranie
Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain

Iqbal Sacranie, secretary general of the MCB, praised initiatives to get more Muslims serving.

"The MCB welcomes moves by our Armed Forces towards greater recognition of the needs of its Muslim recruits," he said.

"The establishment of the post of a Muslim adviser to the MoD and the recently proposed appointment of an imam to cater for the spiritual welfare of British Muslim recruits are both commendable steps," he said.

Mr Sacranie said he hoped Muslims would become as much a part of the military as they had other areas of British society.

But Mr Sacranie also made allusions to recent events involving mistreatment of Muslim prisoners in Iraq by British troops when talking about Muslim involvement in British military operations.

"For this to be successful, however, it is imperative that the high reputation of our armed forces is zealously protected and maintained and not allowed to be tainted by any misbehaviour or illegal actions."




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