In a new video released ahead of Remembrance Sunday, Muslim and non-Muslim youth in Bradford explore, in lyrics, how remembering our shared history can help integration in modern-day Britain.
The Bradford sixth-formers interviewed descendants of soldiers from modern-day India and Pakistan who fought for Britain in the First World War and learned about their contribution to the British war effort of 1914-18. They then worked with local rapper Blazer Boccle to produce lyrics about British identity and how it is shaped by this shared WW1 history.
“I just want everyone to listen,
Being part of Britain isn’t all about religion,
Look into the history books and learn what you’ve been missing:
Every race and religion should be proud of where they’re living.”
-Blazer Boccle in the new video released today.
Bradford West MP Naz Shah, who will speak at the launch of the new film, said:
“Everyone in our country should feel they have an equal stake in being British, no matter what their race or religion. Knowing our shared history can help with that, especially at this time of year when we remember those who fought and died for Britain.”
A 2017 ICM poll for British Future finds that more than two-thirds (67%) of the public agrees that “Britain’s tradition of Remembrance Day brings people together of all faiths and ethnicities,” while only 14% feel that it can divide and cause friction.
Our present-day British identity is shaped by our history, of which the two World Wars form a crucial part. And the multi-ethnic, multi-faith army that fought for Britain in the First World War looked a lot more like the Britain of 2017 than that of 1914. More than 1.5 million soldiers from undivided India, 400,000 of them Muslims from what is now Pakistan, fought alongside British and other Commonwealth soldiers.
80% of the public thinks that telling this story of shared contribution would be good for integration today. Knowledge of the contribution of Indian soldiers is growing and most people are now aware of their contribution, but the story of Britain’s’ WW1 Muslim soldiers remains little-known: just 27% of people know that more than 10,000 Muslims fought for Britain in WW1, according to a 2014 ICM survey.
The new video is part of a broader project, Unknown & Untold, which has been telling the story of Britain’s WW1 Muslim soldiers in mixed workshops around the country, from Birmingham to Belfast, Leicester to Sandhurst Royal Military Academy.