Leicester

Leicester Central Mosque: First in UK to sign 'armed forces pledge'

Army officers at Central Mosque in Leicester
Image caption Officers, including some from the Royal Logistics Corps, attended the Central Mosque for the ceremony

A mosque has become the first in the UK to sign a pledge to support servicemen and veterans.

Imam Muhammad Shahid Raza of Leicester's Central Mosque signed the Armed Forces Covenant at a ceremony attended by local regimental officers.

Parvez Bhatti, a mosque spokesman, said the aim was to be "more vocal" about supporting the armed forces.

Imam Raza said: "I firmly believe that Islam clearly states that we should serve the country we live in."

The pledge was signed by the head imam and witnessed by Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Parker of 158 Regiment of the Royal Logistics Corps, based in nearby Loughborough.

Grassroots level

The covenant is a voluntary pledge from businesses, charities and other organisations to show their support for the armed forces community.

Image copyright Leicester Islamic Centre
Image caption The leaders of the Central Mosque in Leicester said the signing was a local initiative aimed at showing their support for the armed forces

Lt Col Parker said: "It is a sign of the commitment they have chosen to make to the armed forces which is part of the fabric of this nation.

"I am sure that going forward we will be able to do a lot of great work together."

The covenant was launched by the government in May 2011 and has been supported by the City of Liverpool, Cornwall Council, Wiltshire Council and Derby City Council.

Until now it had not been signed by a local mosque, an army spokesman said.

Mr Bhatti added: "This is a local initiative - we are doing this on a grassroots level and we have built up a good relationship with a local regiment.

"We are doing this as a local group and we hope good things will come of it."

The Muslim Council of Britain approved of the pledge and said it hoped many more UK mosques would join in.

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