Why I won’t be wearing the ‘Poppy Hijab’

by Sofia Ahmed

10626644_10100834067865345_4866037326840446690_nIn the latest attempt at unabashed apologism, Muslim groups such as the Islamic Society of Britain (ISB) have asked Muslim women to don a ‘Poppy Hijab’ in order to remember the Muslim soldiers that took part in the two world wars. Sughra Ahmed, president of the ISB suggested that these hijabs would  “take attention away from extremists“. This latest gimmick has got to be the most ill-conceived of the recent spate of  “we are not extremists” initiatives.

Marketing the poppy as a stance against extremism suggests that refusing the symbol is tantamount to ‘extremism’. A great selling point right there. Buy a £22 hijab to prove that you’re not a terrorist, wannabe ‘jihadi bride’ – planning on running off to Syria to find your ISIS prince in bloodstained camouflage. It almost made me think I should buy one, it might make walking through security checks at airports a little easier. I could get on a train without being accosted by a fully uniformed soldier, drunkenly telling me he joined the army to “kill dirty Muslims”.

I also take issue with the fact that a symbol of my religion is being appropriated as a marketing tool for empire. My hijab is a visual sign of my religiosity and devotion to Allah and not a walking talking billboard on which to showcase my patriotism and undying loyalty to Britain. No other religious group is pressured to prove their allegiance in the same way. Somehow I don’t think we’ll be seeing a budding Jewish designer marketing a poppy kippa anytime soon.

Refusing to wear the poppy is not an ‘extremist Muslim’ stance, It’s an ideological position based on anti-war sentiment. Nobody would accuse a white person of extremism for refusing to wear one. Every year we get the same old argument about the significance of the poppy. Some argue that the poppy does not represent war and patriotism but rather commemorates those servicemen who lost their lives in the world wars. Whilst many, non-Muslims and Muslims, alike choose not to wear the poppy because they feel it has been appropriated by politicians and war mongers to celebrate militarism.

There’s been a noticeable push by the military, the government and Muslim groups to tell Muslims in Britain about how our brave forefathers laid down their lives for this country; preaching that we should be thoroughly ashamed of ourselves for not sacrificing ourselves in a similar vein. After all, we have a long history of being used as cannon fodder by our imperial masters, why stop now? It must be the rise of Radical Islam, we’ve all become ‘radical extremists’ Our grandfathers didn’t have this ‘problem’. They were proud of their subservience!

I’m a prime target for these initiatives, coming from a ‘Martial Race’ as I do. My great, great grandfather was awarded an ‘order of merit’ and given title of ‘Subedar Major’ for his ‘bravery’ during the first world war. However, the fact that he was probably fighting on the Mesopotamian campaign against the Muslim Ottoman empire, doesn’t exactly fill me with ecstatic pride. It actually makes me a bit nauseous to think about what ‘brave’ act he must have carried out to be given the highest military award in the land.

Troops of 19th Indian Division - Wikipedia

Troops of 19th Indian Division – Wikipedia

But it is my grandfather’s legacy that really makes me reject this idea that I should celebrate these mens’ sacrifices. He was one of the 2.5 million Indian men that left British India to fight for the Allied powers during the second world war. Part of the Western Desert Campaign, he was stationed in Libya when he was captured by Italian forces in 1941, only to spend the next few years as a prisoner of war in German/Italian prison camps with none of his family aware of his whereabouts during the entire time. British Army officials in Delhi didn’t deem it necessary to provide them with any information. His family thought they were seeing a ghost when he walked back into the village nearly 5 years later.

Only a few decades after the war, this man, who survived bombings, ground invasions and prison camps for the sake of Britain, arrived on these shores to be met with racial hostility and discrimination that he would have to endure until he went to his grave. He lived in the UK through the speech by Enoch Powell, and groups like the National Front telling him to ‘go back where he came from”. The sad fact is that our forefathers laid down their lives for this country and they were rewarded with nothing but humiliation and degradation. Things haven’t changed much, the rise of Islamophobia means their grandchildren and great grandchildren suffer new hues of abuse and negative stereotyping.

So forgive me for being a bit suspicious of  this new found need to celebrate the legacy of Muslim soldiers in British wars. These men were never given the respect  and honour they deserved when they were alive, so why pretend now? I see it for what it is, nothing but a cynical PR campaign to co-opt Muslim opposition to aggressive foreign policy. Perpetual war needs perpetual support and nationalism, which is perceived as somewhat lacking in the British Muslim community. The military and government hawks need to “win hearts and minds” and how better to do that then get us all walking around as human billboards advertising our undying support for war.

I don’t see an end to these types of conciliatory initiatives. What next? Why don’t I just take off my hijab full stop to prove the degree of my ‘integration’. Support every ill-conceived disastrous war that Britain decides to join? Would that prove that I’m not dangerous? Maybe then I will be seen as being entitled to live here and given equal treatment.

I refuse.

My grandfather risked his life defending this country and was still shunned and told that he did not belong here. I’ll always be seen as the ‘other’ regardless of how much I try to fit in. That’s something that needs to be addressed by wider British society, it requires open debate and discussion — not gimmicks.

If there’s one thing I am sure of, it is that given Britain’s never ending lust for war in Muslim lands, and the use of the poppy campaign to garner support and sympathy for the military, my grandfather and those countless other Muslim men who took part in the world wars, would turn in their graves at the sight of  their grandchildren wearing that hijab.

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Sofia Ahmed is an activist, writer and aspiring journalist. She currently resides in Manchester and works in the Health Care sector. She is the founder of Muslim Women Against Femen and #MuslimahPride. Find her on twitter @sofiaahmed1

This piece was edited by Henna Butt

50 replies

  1. Sofia, salams. By way of introduction I am a Muslim. I am also white British. I rarely wear the poppy mainly because I just forget to buy one or they fall off after attempting to pin them on. I have never felt any social pressure to wear one and no-one has ever criticised me for wearing one or not wearing one. I do remember getting a few dirty looks from some of my Muslim brothers in a mosque when wearing one at Friday prayers but that was about it. No-one cares really whether you wear the poppy or not. If you don’t want to wear it, then don’t wear it. Fair enough. It is true that for those on TV/politicians it’s a social norm to wear one. But as neither you nor I are famous enough to come under such media scrutiny I don’t think we need to worry.

    You state correctly that every year there is a debate about what wearing a poppy means, though this debate mainly takes place amongst left wing Britons and Muslims. Despite this recognition that there is not agreement on what it means, you then go on a long rant stating that the poppy generally and this “hijab poppy” idea is to co-opt Muslims into the war or terror or foreign policy or whatever? Your underlying logic would appear to be that wearing a poppy is recognised by the general population as being an endorsement of militarism and therefore getting Muslims to wear the symbol (many already do) will be a means of Muslims also supporting militarism.

    The problem with that logic is that majority of the British population simply don’t perceive it as a celebration of empire and certainly don’t see wearing it as meaning any endorsement of foreign policy. As a symbol it means different things to different people. There is no “official” meaning. But ask 100 people in the street that are wearing it, what it means, and none will say “it’s because I endorse the invasion of Iraq” or “to show I support Guantanamo”. Most will tell you that to them it’s the remembrance of those who died in war and/or those soldiers who died in war. One set of cousins of mine were all in the army twenty years ago… their aunty was very anti-war but was also supportive of the individual people who make up the armed forces. Contrary to your implication, the vast majority of those who are members of the armed forces are not drunk racists. They are people who sign up to a job which they believe, rightly or wrongly, is defending their people, their country. The vast majority do their best in difficult situations. It is the politicians like Blair that bear responsibility for wars, not the soldiers who are merely pawns. It is these people as individuals that are being remembered. It is not “war” or “foreign policy” that is being endorsed. So by all means don’t wear the poppy and if you want to have an interpretation of its meaning that is different to the vast majority of the population then it’s a free country – but don’t make sweeping statements about what it means as if you are someone more in-the-know than those who choose to wear it.

    Finally, the most ridiculous statement you made is, “Things haven’t changed much [since the first generation of post war immigration], the rise of Islamophobia means their grandchildren and great grandchildren suffer new hues of abuse and negative stereotyping.” Are you seriously comparing occasional rants from morons on public transport on YouTube or Daily Mail articles to the type of universal direct discrimination and racial attacks that happened over and over and over to the first generation of post war immigrants? There is still discrimination and abuse but the idea things “haven’t changed much” is just abject rubbish. Look at the two recent London bus rants on YouTube. Within days the individuals were arrested, tried and found guilty of racially aggravated abuse… you can’t change every individual but you can try to change the structure of society and the laws that govern it. Our anti-discrimination laws are some of the strongest in the world.

    If you genuinely think things haven’t changed much then I say to you as a fellow human being that maybe it’s best to find somewhere else to live in the world where you can be happier. I say the same to EDL and Britain First types who constantly whinge about the country. I am proud to be Muslim and proud to be British. I try to make the country and my neighbourhood a better place. ISB are clearly trying to do the same in this case. It’s easy to be a keyboard warrior and pick holes in well intentioned initiatives but much harder to get off one’s backside and make a contribution to the world. Anyone who dislikes living in Britain should either work to make the country better or go somewhere in the world they feel they can be happier. For EDL supporters that may be Spain. For you – I don’t know? Where in the world is it easier to live as a practicing Muslim whilst having economic opportunities, particularly for women? Answers on a postcode please…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Brave piece, Sofia. Well said.

    Here’s something that I wrote myself on the unsettling and increasingly-intrusive nature of the poppy fanfare, what is now oft-referred to as “poppy fascism” and the contentious status of the symbol in Ireland: https://danieldcollins.wordpress.com/2015/10/25/james-and-the-giant-poppy-episode-three/

    It may be of interest.

    James McClean, a Premier League footballer with West Brom and from Derry’s Irish nationalist community, is demonised and accused of being a pro-IRA/pro-terrorist/anti-British extremist for his principled refusal to subscribe to the British nationalist programme by wearing a poppy on account of the British army’s tainted record in the north of Ireland.

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  3. “My hijab is a visual sign of my religiosity and devotion to Allah and not a walking talking billboard on which to showcase my patriotism and undying loyalty to Britain. No other religious group is pressured to prove their allegiance in the same way. Somehow I don’t think we’ll be seeing a budding Jewish designer marketing a poppy kippa anytime soon.”

    Among those Jews who regularly wear a kippa you will find many (outside the Haredi communities who have a firm tradition of only wearing black kippot) who adorn them with all sorts of designs – often in support of their football team. Union Jacks and the Stars and Stripes, emblems of two countries which have proved to be safe havens for this persecuted people, are also popular. There is no ‘pressure’ to produce one with a poppy design – but no-one would make an issue out of it if a budding designer were to come up with one. In the meantime, I and many others will continue to wear a poppy in our buttonhole in remembrance of, and out of respect for, the millions of all faiths and none who lost their lives in service of this country.

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  4. Wearing headgear espacially hijab is compusory and important to a muslimah, and its intention of wearing should be only only to please اللہ azawajal and to obey Prophet’s (salalahu alaihiwassalam) order. If the intentions are different them there is no difference between a non muslim and muslimah. And the question is to plead for something that is totaly unislamic, there is a need of personal accountability at the individual level. And for the author you have a positive direction Mashaa اللہ, good keep it up….. i expect this from you. ☺

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  5. Wow … I had just skipped most of Alis retoric and only now realized he is Canadian as well, or claims to be. Ali I am thoroughly disgusted at your posts and they do not reflect well on you as a Canadian. Your unabashed negativity and hateful rhetoric are astoundingly out of Canadian character and i hope you can see the error of your ways and come to understand non Muslim culture in the way you hope we would respect your culture.

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    • Clearly you skipped over most of what I wrote.

      But hey, you’re Canadian, more than I am by your assertion, so you’re probably right. On that basis alone I salute and honour your lineage. Thank you noble Canadian for being so Canadian and Canadafying this otherwise extremist blog. You know, I really had I thought I had this argument locked, until you doubted my Canadianess. Wow that was a smoking gun! Not the same sort of smoking gun never found in Iraq, no, this was the real deal. I forfeit to your nationalist truth-ism. Bravo bravo.

      Everyone…..wear a poppy lest you be assumed a traitor. You too conquered peoples…eat some Thanksgiving turkey and wear a poppy you ingrates! I have seen the error in my ways.

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      • I never said anything about lineage or Nationalism or being a traitor and Fyi I have natives in my family. What I ACTUALLY said is that I am disappointed in your character given the negativity and hateful rhetoric you project and that this is not typical of the culture Canadians have chosen to project in the world. As a student of history you’ll realize that Canada is made up of a diverse ethnic and cultural fabric but we have chosen to conduct ourselves in ways you are not reflecting in your childish rants. Good luck to you.

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        • Seriously, buddy, I don’t have a hate on for anyone. Just fess up to the truth about your own history rather than sugar coat it. Someone with Native lineage shouldn’t so easily fall for the kumbaya white washing. If you want to honour Allied forces through every battle fought since WW1 that’s your business as it is mine and others to NOT do so. If you’re so appalled at idea rather than those wars themselves, well what more can I say.

          I would ask that you also wear a red poppy for the English who conquered Native lands as well and all the noble British and French soldiers who died fighting your ancestors. While yes they did fight your people, they were really engaged in an all out colonial contest through out the world, and had it not been for pressure to gain more resources they really wouldn’t have bothered with North America. So really, honour them and their struggles of valour the same way you honour them and their conquest of other peoples while they (European) continued their onslaught of one-another over various Enlightenment ideologies like Socialism, Capitalism, Eugenics, Fascism and so on.

          Natives were really accidental casualties in all this weren’t they, as were the Ottomans. You and I should both unite in celebration of those soldiers that invaded our lands and subjugated out peoples. Not just that we should honour any running or future battles they engage in unwaveringly no matter the international or moral legality.

          If only you could wake up and see the light, oh wait that’s your condescending line. I’ll stick to my childish format.

          But in the end, as this “understanding” “compassionate” Canadian you claim to be, you don’t seem to stomach free speech and contrasting opinion very well and lump it all together under “extremism”.

          And good luck to you as well.

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  6. As a Canadian, who deeply respects all religions i was appalled to read both this article and much more the responses that followed. I understand alot of the frustration that Muslims in the west feel and I tried to empathize with the writers position to understand why this would be offensive. I can understand why someone would not want to feel as though they need to appologize for their religion although i believe the ‘appologist’ movements are trying to create the goodwill that the writer claims that British culture needs. As for the poppy, it is NOT in anyway a symbol of the glory of war or empire. The tradition is based on a poem called ‘ in flanders fields’ by a Canadian soldier John Mcrae at a friends funeral. The author was struggling to deal with the death that surrounded him in war and wanted to mourn the loss of his friend. It is truly a symbol of respect for those who sacrificed for all of us against tyranny in every conflict – whether we agree or disagree with the wars.

    Two other points that i think are critical to point out.

    The writer talked in detail about how badly Muslim soldiers were treated in the world wars and assumed that it was because they were Muslims. The British military has a very long history of expending soldiers as canon fodder – take a look at the Canadian experience (essentially all Christians and loyal to Britain) in those wars to understand. They sacrificed Canadians drastically in those conflicts.

    Comments from both sides of this discussion are saying inflammatory things without truly being challenged. If we are to create any goodwill betwen our cultures we must do better. For example Alis assertion that the world wars were about taking Muslim lands is absurd. If it were not for both sides lacking oil no one would have gone anywhere near Muslim lands in that war.

    My challenge to those that sympathize with this article is try to understand why your ancestors tried so hard to relocate to the west and sacrificed so much to defend its ideals – otherwise you will be dishonouring their legacy. And to those who oppose this article and Muslim extremism take the time to understand the frustrations and paranoia minorities feel and be cognizant of it when you speak.

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    • Darryl,

      I have twice deleted what I originally wrote in response to your 2 counter points, partly because I am not writing to sway anyone and partly because it was too long and partly because you strike me as genuine all be it slightly misguided.

      But then again you resort to strange language. War doesn’t appal you but this article does? Come one man, that’s just hyperbolic nonsense.

      I am shocked to see you lumped opposition to this article with opposition to Muslim extremism. Just when you seemed to have a modicum of sense and genteelness about your tone, you polarize it with a statement like that.

      Let’s start with the Flander’s Field poem. This poem was particularly seized by the UK has propaganda despite the original intent of the poem. The poppy as a symbol quickly followed and is motivationally distinct from the poem. You have confused the issue. Secondly as I had mentioned before, the poppy became trade marked by the Legion and is used to raise funds for war veterans…..only Allied war veterans. As those soldiers are now gone, do you not wonder where the money goes now? Yep, you conveniently ignored it, MODERN veterans of much less morally certain wars! Remember the Iraqi Dossier from Tony Blair, remember the 500,000 to 2 million people protesting not to go to war with Iraq in 2003, remember the WMD lies? Ah yes, well those veterans are recipients of modern poppy money. Do modern troops have a choice? Why yes they do! They are not conscripted, they are career soldiers. They may join for noble reasons but often they lack the application of morality to specific deployments of conflicts. Though they do have the option of conscientiously objecting, they do not. So, guess what, they are culpable! You know what that means? It means the institution of the poppy regardless of morality assigns financial and moral support to potentially immoral wars or acts. The poppy is not selective of which veteran or which conflict receives its approval and funding. Continually dressing the matter with WW1 and WW2 fatigues side steps the point and the actual intention of the poppy, which was ONLY to continually financially support Allied soldiers post conflict where the government lack sufficient funds to do so and to keep the morale of the troops high in the depression that followed throughout a devastated Europe. The red poppy was not about an earnest reflection of the (and if you want to be appalled, this would be a better time to be) appalling repercussions of war.

      You are precisely the type of hawkish Harperite that has over-run the heyday of Canadian global moral-ism. The last 15 years has seen a rise in mentalities like yours, and that Oil Sands power base talk is just a Canadianized version of the Good Ol Boy US Republican line. You don’t represent the Canada of the 70s, 80s and 90s that was once globally respected.

      In this world rife with nationalism you may find it hard to understand that someone may not hold nationalistic values as you do. Not to say they don’t respect their country, but to say that they don’t hold it as their highest loyalty. I cannot simply agree that one country is universally better than another. Many things make up what a country is, and a large mass of people is one such criteria. People grow and change, some commit wrongs and next to none are flawless. I can support flawed people, masses, societies, however that support may not come in the form of praise. That support may come in the form of criticism. This concept may be foreign to many, but I cannot stand an honour those who died with out knowing the facts of their lives and the manner in which they died. I cannot give my blessings so easily.

      This is something within Islam, that we do not pray for the, let’s say “souls who have turned against God”. This applies to a self declared Muslim who does something against God….such as much of what has been ascribed to ISIS for example. We cannot stand, pray or honour such a person, group, or act. Likewise, where another person, group, or act is similarly against God, a Muslim cannot honour them.

      Be they Canadian or not, a carte-blanche honour is not permitted for us. We must distinguish between the goodness of deeds and acts as opposed to the nation or group which perpetrates said act or deed.

      I have studied Middle Eastern and European history extensively in university here in Toronto to learn that what the Allies did in WW1, WW2 and subsequent wars is not black and white and definitely not worth honouring in a blanket approach. You are radically mistaken about the British motivation to acquire oil resources due to the war itself. Please please look into the annexation of Egypt, the defeat of Napoleon to head France off from building the Suez Canal (which was French designed), the shift of British focus to India after the loss of America, the rise and fall of Mohamed Ali Pasha, the defeat of the Mehdi Army in Sudan and the 100+ years of planning to invade the Ottoman empire. You really don’t even have a clue! Investigate the agreement to partition Iran as well. Really, seriously….do your research before you flap on idealistically. You really expose your lack of historical awareness.

      If that troubles you, I suggest you earnestly begin your search rather than emotionally withdraw on the basis of a misplaced nationalist sentiment.

      And for the record you give our ancestors too much credit for relocating. Human beings are largely motivated by base concerns and primarily migrate for economic benefit rather than ideals. Our ancestors didn’t move here for Canadian notions of morality, they moved here for economic factors and that goes back to the early settlers as well. This was an open land that invited migrants to rapidly populate and exploit resources. You should really investigate the motivation for building the railroad out to BC to prevent the Americans from annexing it and the deliberate courting of the Chinese and Ukrainians to build the network and farm the land….which by the way was of course as you are well aware Native lands.

      Feudal Europe was already owned and parcelled up by lords and offered few if no upward mobility opportunities hence the exodus of massively underprivileged sectors of European society that relocated to the Americas. I mean I am not even touching on slavery here!

      Please don’t be a sucker for the tear jerking “give me your huddled masses” hooks. You should know better than that as a Canadian.

      Not every ancestor is to be honoured. Not everything they did was honourable. We don’t honour people simply because they came and shlubbed about this Earth before us. We honour the good deeds that they did. We honour good people. The poppy does not distinguish, it takes sides between nationalities and adversaries at war, the poppy simply doesn’t stand for good deeds, it covers the truth.

      Do you ask Native Americans to celebrate Columbus Day, or celebrate the conquest of the New World? It was as much a conquest as it was a legacy of inter European colonial wars.

      For some reason you seem to be locked into a belief that WW1 and WW2 were some sort of saintly calling on the part of the Allies and you overlook all their atrocities.

      You sir should take more than a minute next Nov 11th to remember what your ancestors really did.

      All that being said, if you are up for bashing the “Golden Age of Islamic Empire” I am up for that, just not on this forum as it is off topic. My point, yet again stated, is that no one side should be exclusively honoured. This would be a deliberate delusion or simply blind pride.

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      • I dont find war appalling – wrong never said anything to support that

        Linked extremism to opposition to this article – wrong that was clearly directed at those non Muslims who are saying negative things about Muslims, who are nearly as misguided as you are.

        I read on to see more personal attacks (you know nothing of my politics), rhetoric and misguided statements. Making assumptions as you clearly have do not fit in with a true student of history but rather someone with a political agenda. I know what happened in the WW’s but I also know that the primary struggle was between European powers to directly conquer each other, everything else was secondary. You seem very focussed on turning everything into a conspiracy against Muslims. Modern wars are like older wars – they’re all bad. Some are worse because of why they are started but the point of the poppy is to honour the willingness of soldiers to risk their lives for ours period. So next year I will spend my minute thinking specifically about the many Muslims who risked their lives in support of the western allies during that great struggle.

        Why you focus so much on the money collected as if it is flowing from the pockets of money hungry soldiers I dont understand either. The monies collected thru poppy sales is nothing.

        Given that you grossly misrepresented all of my words I wont be returning to waste my time on this argument with you.

        I hope others that read this take a moment to consider ‘what if this poppy is a genuine symbol of honoring those who suffered the ravages of war in our stead’

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        • The point of poppy is not to honour soldiers that risked their lives for us. You don’t understand the point of the poppy at all. The poppy is not part of any other culture but Allied British and Canadian culture. Germans don’t have a poppy for their war dead. Nor do Hungarians or Russians or whomever. The red poppy ONLY represents British and Canadian soldiers. Not all soldiers who risked their lives for all civilians.

          The red poppy also does not honour civilians who have died, nor innocent civilians from the other side of the conflict, nor enemy soldiers who were forcibly conscripted to fight against their will.

          The red poppy is exclusively one sided in this regard.

          You really need to do more research including the 100 years leading up to WW1. You really have a poor grasp of the events and motives behind them.

          If the money is nothing then it is unnecessary or symbolic and if so should be shared among all victims of the wars. Why does it exclusively go to the Allied soldiers alone? And why to current veterans of recent wars?

          No need to answer, those questions may stand as rhetorical lest you find them a waste of time.

          Final question, why oppose the white poppy? Or did you skim over that segment of my childish rants?

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  7. As a 68 year old woman who has never worn a poppy – not even a white one – I just want to say how much I agree with Sophia’s argument, but and how saddened I am to know that what she says is true.
    As for those who say there is no ‘social pressure’ to wear a poppy – you have only to read the comments in the press of the twitter remarks aimed at a certain footballer who refused to wear one. And I don’t believe I’ve EVER seen a BBC or ITV presenter without one either.

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    • Not only that but this is not a symbol of your religion. From what I have read there is no where in your Quran that states women have to wear a head covering. This head covering was a demand from Muslim men and it has now become a part of your culture. If anything……you should be refusing to wear a hijab at all since it was forced on women to wear.

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    • A headscarf is a headscarf, it’s like underwear, just as undewear is necessary to live life in a comfortable manner a headscarf is necessary to what we personally believe and how we practise making us feel comfortable so similarly you can say that underwear is a marketing item.

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  8. You all should look into the white poppy and what the Legion has systematically done to destroy the image and meaning behind it.

    The red poppy is a stealth tax to fund wounded soldiers who otherwise cannot be taken care of under the socialist health care system as war is costly and the government doesn’t wish to be burdened by its true costs; that is passed onto the society to bare!

    The red poppy signifies not a respect for peace but rather it is a propaganda funding campaign to propagate war for an Allied, Anglo-Saxon agenda. The red poppy does not commemorate the deaths of 1) Anyone considered an enemy, 2) Civilians, 3) Non-Anglo soldiers

    The legion guards the poppy as a trademark.

    Those who lived through and died during the Great War have now all died. Where do you think the money for the red poppies is going now? To soldiers from current conflicts! By wearing a red poppy today you are supporting modern wars and conflicts beyond that which your tax dollar already contributes to! Also modern wars do not carry the same meaning and have the same clarity of morality as can be argued about the Great War, which by the way they repeated to greater affect!!! and have since not learned our lessons!

    Now tell me that the red poppy is about peace and not repeating the mistakes of our past, including the Great War.

    The red poppy is about the propagation of Anglo-Saxon wars.

    Start your research with the white poppy and discover what these people really think of peace.

    Apologists indeed to be kowtowed into wearing a poppy hijab!

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  9. You put your ego first… Not religion… All this ‘no one else has to do it, so why should I?’ is just petulant. Just remember, there are people who fought and died for you to live in a nation where you are free enough to complain about being asked to remember them… Where you have freedom to have whatever religion you may have… Where you have the freedom to do as you please… A drunk soldier might have told you be less killing Muslims… But that is not a reflection of every serviceman who have up his life… Just as terrorists are not a reflection of every muslim… So just remember, people who you don’t know and we’ll never met went through hell, and gave up their life for you to have the freedoms you have

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    • WW1 was waged in large part to conquer and control massive areas of Muslim lands. WW1 also had mutual agreements forged between the Russians and British to control Iran who literally had nothing to do with WW1!!!

      WW1 was a paradigm shift in Eurpoean powers since the rise of central Europe under Bismark contrary to the post-Napoleonic decree that no central European power should be allowed to rise after 1814.

      WW1 was a war between Europeans who dragged in other non-White nations in an opportunistic land grab and reshuffling of the colonial powers’ land and resources.

      The “Old Man of Europe” aka the Ottoman Empire was ripe for the picking for nearly 100 years prior but Britain did not want to engage Russia in open conflict over it, so they both engaged in a cold war of their own until WW1 presented the opportunity to conquer it without triggering a war with one another. They both mutually agreed to partition resources as they were allies in the Great War with respect to Europe. Their conquest didn’t stop with those countries directly involved in Europe or the war, instead they sucked in countries like Iran in their resource / land grab.

      So why again do you think WW1 Soldiers on the British side gave their lives for (my) freedom? Not for me, you are mistaken. They did it for themselves and their respective homelands, i.e. the greater good of Britain.

      Are you really naive enough to believe these soldiers had the foresight to include 100+ years of a future inclusive of former Ottoman state Muslims in their grand vision? These soldiers were forced or pressured into fighting for a cause they didn’t fully understand against rising central European powers to protect the British Empire. Non-of these soldiers envisioned an economically and politically collapsed Empire as today which has taken on a softer approach to its former colonies out of a humbled necessity. Stop posthumously awarding them with motives they simply did not have, as evidenced by the racism that followed WW1, from Indians to blacks, to a general xenophobia the permeates the UK in general.

      Britain is a better place and today precisely because it is not longer the brutal empire it was and that is due in large part to the devastation it faced in WW2.

      Your oversimplification of history and motives is part of the propaganda and the very pride you levy back at others who don’t drink your brand of Kool-Aid.

      The famous retort “if it weren’t for us, you would be speaking German right now” doesn’t sound as appealing as you think to nations who were stripped of their culture to be replaced by colonial culture. Who says we want to be speaking in English? Who says the rest of the world wants Euro centric globally dominating institutions which impose cultural, legal and financial systems on other nations?

      And you speak of pride?

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      • And the poppy is also worn to remember WWII. Remember Hitler? I have seen lots of muslims wear poppys I guess they dont agree with the cheesy identity politics that you subscribe to. Religious belief is a lifestyle choice that does not in any sense assist you in understanding historical occurrences, as your massively over simplistic explanation of how the Ottoman Empire collapsed demonstrates.

        I wore a poppy in remembrance of those that fell fighting fascism and nazism, something of course lost on you.

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        • Wear and white poppy. The social pressure to wear a red poppy is tremendous which I have personally experienced during my 8 years in the UK for simply not pinning a poppy to my chest. The gung ho pro military propaganda is rife. I have seen South Africans berated for unknowingly not observing the minute of silence which is forced upon them in a working environment. This is institutionalized nationalism and propaganda. Why should a South African or Argentinian or Iraqi or Chinese or any nation who suffered under British militerized brutality stand to selectively honour British or commonwealth soldiers? If Turks should honour GallipoliGallipoli so too should enemy soldiers of the Allied Forces be included in that honour.

          The white poppy which honours collateral damage and shuns war is your alternative to those who are not aware. The white poppy includes soldiers allied or otherwise who died in ignorance or those who died fighting for a just cause and shuns those who fight and kill for alterior shameful motives.

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          • Your response is riddled with anecdotal waffle and muddled reasoning.

            “Wear and white poppy. The social pressure to wear a red poppy is tremendous which I have personally experienced during my 8 years in the UK for simply not pinning a poppy to my chest.”

            You quite simply fail to explain what the social pressure actually is. Furthermore, I could quite simply state that in my 47 years in the UK I have witnessed no such ‘social pressure’. It just begs the question why your anecdotal observations carry such weight, especially given you provide zero evidence of what this ‘social pressure’ actually consists of.

            “The gung ho pro military propaganda is rife. I have seen South Africans berated for unknowingly not observing the minute of silence which is forced upon them in a working environment. This is institutionalized nationalism and propaganda”.

            Again purely anecdotal, devoid of research and emanating from an aspiring journalist this is again a poor response. The TWO minutes silence has been in place since 1919 if these South Africans fail to understand this after 95 years then it is their ignorance that is at fault. Are you seriously suggesting that they should ignore it and make as much noise as possible? If so it wouldn’t be two minutes silence would it.

            Finally on this point, you use the word nationalism which is utterly misplaced as the two minutes silence is in place to reflect the international nature of modern warfare which naturally includes remembering those Indian, Irish and other Commonwealth soldiers who died in both wars.

            You call this anecdotal observation propaganda, a word that is utterly misplaced since you fail to explain what , where and when and how it is actual propaganda to berate certain individuals for failing to observe an activity that has been in existence for 95 years.

            “Why should a South African or Argentinian or Iraqi or Chinese or any nation who suffered under British militerized brutality stand to selectively honour British or commonwealth soldiers? If Turks should honour GallipoliGallipoli so too should enemy soldiers of the Allied Forces be included in that honour.2”

            As I stated previously Remembrance Sunday also remembers those who were killed in WW II.

            A logical extension from what you state above would be, “members of the Waffen SS too should be included in that honour 2[sic]

            The Nuremberg Trials found these individuals to be war criminals.

            The Leipzig Trials also found German officers and officials guilty of international law violations in 1921. Should these individuals be honoured for mistreating prisoners of war?

            Your approach to this subject is bizarre, let alone inconsistent

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            • Social pressure: Besides my “anecdotes” and life experiences I will refer then to the direct indoctrination of school aged youth to attend and stand and participate in Remembrance Day ceremonies in my place of birth Canada. Typically this starts at year 1 or sooner and continues through to middle school. This is systematic, endemic and institutionalized brainwashing. Call it by any other name it is still the same.

              South African does not have the minute of silence. They too fought against the British and are not expected to honour British soldiers in all conflicts. Your arrogance is demonstrated when you expect cultures who have fought against or suffered from British aggression to be aware of and participate in such one sided ceremonies. A further case in point would be Gallipoli ceremonies as I have stated. The British blunder or calculation to send Australians to their expected slaughter at those cliffs at the beach to otherwise distract the Ottoman forces from a British flanking is a particular sticking point in UK culture and to expect Turks to mourn that occasion is absurd. In fact the British should be the ones to openly apologise for the deliberate use of the Australian forces as fodder, let alone the attack on the Ottomans. Why a Turk should have to stand and honour that instance is absurd. Do you stand and honour felled Ottoman soldiers too?

              If you revise my other comments you will find I do not “by logical extension” call for the honouring of parties guilty of war crimes. To the contrary I call for the selective honouring of a very small percentage of honourable or good hearted but ignorant soldiers on all sides of a conflict and the condemnation of (the majority) of the other participants in war who for the most part engage in warfare too readily as a means of livelihood (i.e. a 9 to 5 career), through ignorance and nationalist / racist / cultural / religious / pride, and ulterior motives which are not honourable (i.e. a resource grab under false pretexts). I do not call for selecting one side or the other as in the vast majority of cases no one side is correct but rather both sides have broken down civility and war is a consequence of that breakdown.

              I am also not advocating pacifism as an absolute and unwavering response to violent hostility however I do advocate, as is the case in a justification for any properly sanctified Muslim war, that all options for peace must be FULLY exhausted. That war should be an absolute last resort in defence ONLY and collateral damage must be kept to an absolute minimum including infrastructure and civilian lives. In saying this, I’ll have you aware that this negates most if not all “Jihads” of the modern era as as well as most if not all wars (under the banner or pretext of Islam) as being actually un-Islamic! And as such I cannot honour them as Shaheed or martyrs. So I am not waffling or wavering in my condemnation of war except under the utmost sanctioned cases as applied to all sides of a conflict.

              I do not subscribe to the universal honouring of one side vs another. The red poppy however DOES represents this as you so stubbornly defend. You take no ownership or responsibility of your culture’s brutal crimes and you are expressedly fixated on blaming others with no introspection or remorse. You are actually a prime example of the imposing cultural climate associated with the red poppy and a prime example of the indoctrination of the red poppy and what it stands for.

              Your racism and pride is apparent and your lack of even a hint of reconsideration is a testament to the culture of blind solidarity.

              In fact on this remembrance you are woefully avoiding that very task, to remember in totality the events and circumstances that have led to war and the crimes and offences committed within war. But the red poppy by its conception is selective remembrance as you are at pains to come to terms with.

              Not to worry….”stiff upper lip and all that”….”keep calm and carry on”

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        • Additionally, religion is not merely a lifestyle choice. Your secular dismissal of religion and the UK’s attitude toward it is quite false. By dismissing it as you do, you and your government actively seek to marginalize religious practisioners within your neat little containable box and world view which the West actively and forcibly imposes. To dismiss Syria and secular or Afghanistan and non-Muslim and failed states is a gross misunderstanding.

          When it comes to the Ottoman Empire’s collapse I am aware of the factors involved. I am aware of the 200 years leading to it’s downfall. I am also aware of covert tactics used by Russia in the the Balkins to weaken the empire to which the UK responded by funding and financially backing the Ottoman Muslim armies to violently suppress these Russian backed uprisings in order to prevent Russia from gaining Ottoman lands.

          This debate was raging in the UK parliament at the time as to whether or not to fund Muslim armies of a bankrupt empire to slaughter Christian rebels. The motion was carried out and Britain was aware of an actively complicit in order to conquer the Ottoman Empire at a later time without open warefare with Russia.

          So not only am I aware of the complex factors but also of the lies and hipocrissy 8n war on all sides.

          Stop using Hitler as your shield. The poppy is WW1 invention and even still Europe dragged the world into their savagery for a second time!

          97 million people died in both wars….not just 900,000 soldiers who are represented currently in the London Tower moat with poppies! 100x as many people died! 8 million Ukrainians alone!

          The red poppy simply misses the point as have you.

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          • “Additionally, religion is not merely a lifestyle choice. Your secular dismissal of religion and the UK’s attitude toward it is quite false. By dismissing it as you do, you and your government actively seek to marginalize religious practisioners within your neat little containable box and world view which the West actively and forcibly imposes. To dismiss Syria and secular or Afghanistan and non-Muslim and failed states is a gross misunderstanding.”

            None of the above actually rebuts my original point. It is nothing more than a parallel narrative. However, your argument that the West actively and forcibly imposes secularism is not supported by any citation whatsoever. Blaming the West for imposing secularism is crass especially when yourself and I could give a plethora of examples of where religious belief if imposed on others completely independently of the Wests involvement. For example, Saudi attitudes towards Christians and the oppression of the Rohingra in Myanmar which are not Western plots.

            You claim “gross misunderstanding” but fail to explain how.

            “Stop using Hitler as your shield. The poppy is WW1 invention and even still Europe dragged the world into their savagery for a second time!”

            Another poor argument. I used Hitler to explain the inadequacies of your analysis, how is that a “shield”? The poppy has been used since WW1, but it as a symbol embraces all conflicts to date, which covers the battle against Hitler. Therefore Hitler dragged the world into savagery for a second time! Remember Neville Chamberlain being ridiculed for appeasement.

            97 million did die in both wars but I fail to understand how all these are casually forgotten as you suggest. It is rather patronising to think that when people stand for two minutes silence they somehow blot out all civillian casualties and victims of the Holocaust etc.

            The job of the British Legion is to provide funds for service personnel (serving and non-serving) to help with rehabilitation, it has never been their role to commemorate civillian victims. This is a basic category error by you.

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            • “None of the above actually rebuts my original point. It is nothing more than a parallel narrative. However, your argument that the West actively and forcibly imposes secularism is not supported by any citation whatsoever. Blaming the West for imposing secularism is crass especially when yourself and I could give a plethora of examples of where religious belief if imposed on others completely independently of the Wests involvement. For example, Saudi attitudes towards Christians and the oppression of the Rohingra in Myanmar which are not Western plots.”

              You really need citation for examples of Western countries invading or colonizing other countries and imposing Western financial, legal and governance systems up to and including modern times whereby Christian based laws are being systematically replaced by secular liberal based laws? This really needs citation? Really? Or are you being deliberately obtuse? I mean just as a grab one out of the air example, Iran from 1914 through to the current day is not an example of 3 (if you include Russia) Western powers meddling and imposing on another country? Afghanistan from British to Russian and now to US impositions? No? I mean we can rifle through a list of obvious citations? Nicaragua? Panama? Venezuela, Chile, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Syria (1914 onwards), Egypt, Indonesia, I mean seriously the list is endless!

              I do not make the distinction between post 1914 and post 1914 though as 1914 was not in an of itself a bench mark or game changer the way it was intended to be when it was aptly named the Great War. My point is that the West dragged the world into yet another in it’s long list of inter colonial power global wars and the Great War was not the be-all-and-end-all. It just got assigned a number.

              The poppy was created after WW1 and has served as a social welfare suppliment to a healthcare system that has not accounted for military losses properly nor has the poppy deterred from repeating the Great War, precisely as I suggest because it did not factor in a proper and accurate cost to war!

              When civilians and collateral damage is factored in, as the white poppy represents, the nature of war becomes abhorrent, while the red poppy does not take or support this position.

              Do some research into the history of the red vs white poppy before you respond next time rather than rambling on about your pro-Western rhetoric and justifications for Western global domination which really has not abated since the colonial era.

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        • PS my grandfather was in a Nazi camp. Don’t assume the Nazi atrocities are lost on me.

          The fact is European collonial infighting was a disgusting period and the climax of a long 500 year plus bloody history of conquests and genocides. There is no honour in any of these wars. Though WW2 was pretty straight forward in terms of identifying a clear enemy this does not wash the hands of previous and subsequent wars, motives and deeds.

          This delusion that the Allied side of any war is the only side worth funding or honouring is racist and arrogant.

          War is dirty, ugly, conveluded and a breakdown of civil order.

          Just as Muslims run arounf deluded into thinking their wars are Jihadified and sanctioned, Muslim and likewise Western wars are not sanctioned!

          It is rare if not impossible to have a clean Holy or sanctified war. So to honour one side of a conflict unwaveringly through any and every instance of warfare and continue to fund their activities regardless is blind pride, arrogance, racism and propaganda on a passive aggressive all the wat through to violent level.

          You clearly don’t understand the nuances truth in warfare and violence.

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          • “The fact is European collonial infighting was a disgusting period and the climax of a long 500 year plus bloody history of conquests and genocides. ”

            The above failing to mention, Idi Amin, Pol Pot, the Armenian Genocide of 1915, the genocide during the Bangladesh war of independence. Mao Ze Tung’s mass exterminations during the Great Leap forward, Stalins mass murder………….the list goes on and nothing to do with the (evil) West or colonialism.

            “It is rare if not impossible to have a clean Holy or sanctified war. So to honour one side of a conflict unwaveringly through any and every instance of warfare and continue to fund their activities regardless is blind pride, arrogance, racism and propaganda on a passive aggressive all the wat through to violent level”.

            A clean Holy or sanctified war, what on earth this means is anyone’s guess

            I could give a very good current example where one could “honour one side of a conflict unwaveringly”. The people of Kobani are heroically battling against a vile fascist movement known as ISIS, it is a moral as well as military prerequisite that those fighting ISIS are honoured and ISIS are constantly and consistently shown as the genocidal fascists that they are, thus their combatant losses and military defeat celebrated.

            Honouring one side over the other is a bad thing is it. You have a very wonky moral compass

            “racism and propaganda on a passive aggressive all the wat [sic] through to violent level”

            Well I must confess that this line is nothing more than impenetrable mumbo jumbo, especially given racism word always casually chucked in for good measure.

            A career in journalism, my advice, don’t give up the day job and improve your spelling!

            One simple question, are you a pacifist?

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            • Ahhhh there you go….the dread “P” word. That very word the struck the white poppy from history. “You are either with us or against us”. You either stand for honour of Allied soldiers exclusively or your are a pacifist to be dismissed. There is only one view, and that view is that Anglo-Alliance soldiers must be honoured regardless of the conflict, motivation, outcome and anything less is “against us”…..now you have come to the point of the Legion trademarked red poppy….you finally found your way to the not so subtle conclusion of the meaning behind the red poppy when insistent social brainwashing and propaganda in the school systems and media fail. The indoctrination of the meaning behind the red poppy is systematic and was exposed very early on in the history of the red poppy when it came face to face with the British women’s group who started the white poppy campaign in the 20s.

              Like the war mongers of Europe then and now, you resort to the (in your eyes) pacifist slander.

              PS I’m not a pacifist, no need to break out the white feather.

              Oh and speaking of Kobani Kurds, as a Brit you must probably be aware of the 1920 RAF straffing and chemical bombing of Kurds, actually from 1918 through 1932 to quell the Arab and Kurdish uprisings against British conquest of Arab lands from the Ottomans. These bombings of the Kurds by the British by what was then thee single most extreme example of a maximum armament campaign of bombing and by Churchills orders intended to harness chemical weapon technology and go on to serve as a chemical weapons testing grounds to quell future uprisings through the 20s.

              Should I wear a red poppy to honour those British killers of Kurds? Surely you would not wear a poppy to honour those of ISIS that kill Kurds today? Surely you would dishonour those British Allied soldiers who bombed Kurds from 1918 and onwards for the next 14 years? Surely?!?!

              Ah but no, we know the position of the red poppy along with yourself, British soldiers are always correct and noble, while the Kurds serve as a pretext either for or against to bomb ______(insert vilified enemy of the day here)

              Oh and the support of Saddam over an 8 year period to invade Iran with a side of Kurd gassing with Western supplied weaponry? Ah yes…..so clear cut between ISIS and the Kurds…..

              You, the British were the ISIS of the day to the Kurds on a number of occasions. Should I stand for those British soldiers who bombed the Kurds? Should I stand for soldiers who sold weapons to Iraq and then IRAN!!!! A one Mr Oliver North who took the fall for the whole scandal?

              ISIS is your smoke screen, as is Hitler. They are both your shields when you need an example of an easy (on the face of it) us vs them mantra to rally behind, but you kid yourself to think these wars including ISIS are clean and straight forward. Al Qaeda after all was a US by product designed to embarrass the USSR. You don’t think ISIS have anything to do with the US via Qatari supported mercenary forces used in Libya and then Syria?

              Ghadaffi warned that that “Arab Spring” in Libya was comprised of Islamist foreign fighters supported by the US via Qatar. He was genuinely shocked when he stated for the record the armed groups in Libya were not locals and questioned why the West had turned on him after he had paid for Lockerbie and reconciled with the West only 3 years prior. Do some investigation into the French, US and UK led and supported operation Mermaid (The rebel attack on Tripoli) to see how much meddling the West has engaged in and has actually contributed to the creation of Al Qaeda and ISIS even after the rise and fall of modern post USSR Al-Aqaeda.

              The same fighters used in Libya by the West were transplanted into Syria to start an in authentic rebellion there as well. That rebellion has since gotten out of hand to a certain extent. ISIS is easily manageable and has been allowed a certain leash length reign as a pretext to continued Western occupation and redrawing of borders.

              Maybe you are not aware of the complex nature of espionage and clandestine pretext manipulation perpetrated on a regular basis.

              Pardon my spelling as I mash it out on a touch screen phone, lest we dismiss the whole argument based on an errant spelling mistake or typo.

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  10. Sister I agree with your reasons for not donning this memoryware at the same time I suggest the following :

    . It is never too late to do the right thing in terms of appreciating the Muslim soldiers who fought for freedom of the people.
    .In spite of the fact that others are not forces to apologize and wear poppy wear, could it be that Allah is putting us in a situation where acknowledging the contribution of Muslim and non Muslim soldiers is the right thing to do and that in doing what is right we will be blessed not by the British rather by the creator.

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    • You are mistaken.

      Muslims faught and killed Muslims in WW1 during the Arabian v Ottoman wars. According to the Quran both parties (Muslims) who intend to kill another Muslim whether in aggression or defense are punished with Hellfire.

      The distinction between what is santioned in Islam and not within the realm of warfare is not being made here to wear a red poppy. Like wise WW1 also saw the conquest and forcible control of Muslim lands by the British and French.

      The British also caused immense strife and damage to India prior to and during the partitioning.

      Though Muslims are in large part to blame for our own downfall so to are British soldiers specifically.

      So who do you suppose we should honour Muslims who have killed against Allah and who have died in a state of Kufar attempting to kill other Muslims or why should we honour our conquerers?

      The battle of North Africa was that of 2 Anglo superpowers who sucked us into their wars as they did in North America and devastated the Native populations?

      You would stand and honour this?

      You would over simplify and cover our own Muslim catastrophic mistakes a d betrayals to Allah?

      Who’s blessing and forgiveness do you seek with a red poppy? Be honest with yourself. Also note Muslims don’t lay flowers at graves. Again be honest with yourself.

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      • Just to clarify, I am not saying you are mistaken to honour proper Shaheed Muslims. Rather I making the point that not ALL Muslims who fought are to be honoured nor not all Allied Soldiers. In fact the proportion of proper sanctioned deaths within the scope of Islam is probably extremely low. The red poppy does not make the distinction between good or bad soldier, or good or bad enemy soldier or also account for innocent civilian causalities.

        The red poppy is a symbol exclusively for Allied soldiers in every war since WW1 and a cleansing propaganda for any and all actions carried out by them. The red poppy is an intentional radical over simplification.

        If you wish to make the distinction between righteous cause, sanctioned Jihad, noble motives etc…then the poppy is not the vehicle to do this nor is it appropriate for a Muslim. We say prayers for these Shaheed and do not lay flowers in such ceremonies.

        Our values are not dictated by slogans like “freedom”. Anyone who investigates the notion further will discover “freedom” is relative and extremely nuanced. Islamic views on “freedom” differ though minutely in the spectrum of the meaning of the word but enough so that the West could very easily declare a war on the Muslim world (and has) under the same catch all phrasing “fighting for freedom” or “war on terror”.

        So don’t do yourself the disservice of becoming a victim to semantic warfare and propaganda and investigate the details further.

        As nuanced as these slogans and histories are, so too are the expressions such as red vs white poppies vs red vs non specific hijabs, vs silent prayers vs public displays of support and so on.

        The OP sister can choose to reject the red hijab and express her support in other ways and directed appropriately.

        It is simply not sufficient to say we also include Muslim soldiers into the Allied mix and that makes it OK to wear a red poppy. We may inadvertently be caving to social pressure and incorrectly honouring Muslims who have acted against Islam and humanity!

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  11. Good article, although I have to say I was on the receiving end of a ‘bloody extremist terrorist sympathiser leftie’ (actual wird) rant when I politely asked a woman to remove the poppy stickers she had put up in my cafés windows without permission.

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  12. We are not terrorist without wearing your 22 pound scarf .
    Before wearing these scarfs Britain first should stop bombing islamic countries ,I respect British people but not British government they want us to look guilty .how they can judge all the muslim community with minor groops .

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    • Here in Britain we dont take that much interest in religion and the Government in turn is not that interested in what sky fairy floats your boat. It is not correct to accuse the Government of bombing islamic countries.

      Afghanistan was a collapsed state that never had a state sponsored religion. Iraq was a secular Baathist state, as is Syria. Iran is an islamic state as is Pakistan but they have not been invaded.

      Hopefully you will have a better grasp of facts next time round.

      Like

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