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3 Oct 2014
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Muslims suffer hostility in the British Army
By Home Affairs Correspondent Mike Thomson
With the strong possibility of a ground war looming in Afghanistan it has never been more important that our soldiers march to the same tune. But according to a serving Muslim soldier prejudice and fear following the attacks on New York and Washington is making that increasingly difficult.



Not that such treatment is new. Mohammed, who joined up two years ago, claims anti-Muslim discrimination started in training. Name calling, mainly by junior NCOs, was followed by a refusal to give him halal food - which he'd been promised when recruited - as well as threats of violence. On one occasion, despite making it clear he was Muslim, he was ordered to go to church. When he refused, he was told to polish boots and iron kit for the rest of the day as punishment. But it's the thought of having to depend on the protection of the soldier next to him in the event of action that now bothers him most.

Naser Khan from Blackburn, who was a Bombardier in the Royal Artillery, is proud of the medals he gained whilst serving in the Gulf War and Bosnia. But he's not so enamoured with some of the colleagues he served with in those campaigns. He remembers the insults and threats all too well.

Mr Khan says he complained to senior officers more than ten times about incidents like this but no one ever seemed to be disciplined. On one occasion he was the victim of an assault by two fellow soldiers which left him with serious spinal injuries. He's since left the army but fears for other British Muslim soldiers sent to Afghanistan.

But if such people should fall victim to bullying or intimidation fighting the Taliban they won't find much sympathy with some fellow Muslims. Iman, Abdul Haq-Baker, who describes himself as a moderate, insists no Muslim should serve in the British or any other nationalist Army, and particularly at a time when he could find himself firing on fellow Muslims.

Such sentiments no longer surprise Mohammed who says aggression from his own community is almost as fierce as that inspired by anti-Muslim prejudice within the army.

Despite attitudes like these, as well as the hostile treatment he's received from some fellow soldiers. He insists he will fight in Afghanistan if called to. But he admits that in the current climate it's a very worrying prospect.


The army is trying to attract more recruits from ethnic groups
Listen - to Mike Thomson's report
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Recruitment may be affected by reports of hostility to Muslims
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