A Birmingham Imam has said that Muslims should not fight in the British armed forces on conscientious grounds due to their presence in Iraq and Afghanistan. Shaykh Asrar Rashid, a visiting cleric at the city’s mosques, also told the BBC the Queen was “a disgusting woman” for knighting author Salman Rushdie.
In 1989 Iran’s leaders called for the death of Mr Rushdie for writing The Satanic Verses, deemed “blasphemous”. The Muslim Council of Britain said the Imam’s views were not representative.
The defence minister, Bob Ainsworth, has appealed to British Muslims to join the armed forces, saying that it was “vitally important that our army, navy and air force are reflective of the hugely diverse society in which we live”.
In an address to the Armed Forces Muslim Conference, Ainsworth said the services were a “fundamental and very positive part of British society, and that they need to be a positive part of Muslim society as well”.
His address follows last month’s Royal Anglican Regiment homecoming in Luton at which a group of Muslims protested, prompting angry scenes involving some of those who had been welcoming the return of the troops. Today there are about 390 Muslims serving across the armed forces.