New regiments should be set up to recruit young British Asians
I HAVE been thinking about the contrasting cases of Prince Harry and the young British Asian would-be jihadists who were recently sent to prison. All are young men eager to fight and kill for what they, rightly or wrongly, believe in. But while Prince Har
I HAVE been thinking about the contrasting cases of Prince Harry and the young British Asian would-be jihadists who were recently sent to prison.
All are young men eager to fight and kill for what they, rightly or wrongly, believe in. But while Prince Harry is praised and idolised for his willingness to fight in Afghanistan, even in a war for which there is little public enthusiasm, the young British Asian zealots were condemned for practising the leopard crawl, and engaging in paintball battles and other military exercises.
There are, of course, good reasons for the difference in our attitude. Prince Harry was fighting foreigners abroad, while the would-be terrorists were plotting to kill us here in Britain.
I have some knowledge of how all these young men feel because I was myself, in my youth, a freedom fighter who engaged in military combat to liberate East Pakistan and create the new country of Bangladesh.
I also know what disappointment can lie in wait for young men willing to fight for what they believe in. In my own case it soon became obvious that the Bangladeshi government was becoming so corrupt and inefficient that I no longer wanted to live in the country I had helped to create!
Prince Harry is considered a hero for serving his country (while interfering in someone else's) as a professional soldier. The young men sent to prison are condemned as evil because they practised terrorist tactics and talked of killing their fellow countrymen.
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It strikes me that in the days of the British Empire, British governments succeeded in recruiting huge numbers of such young men to "fight the good fight" by enlisting in colonial and dominion armies. Large numbers of young Asians fought, and very many died, for Britain in the Second World War.
Now, in Britain, many young British Asians find themselves discriminated against, unemployed and without a clear idea of what good they can make of their lives. That leaves them dangerously open to recruitment by extremists preaching false religions and terrorism.
Wouldn't it be a good idea if, instead of spending £20 billion on renewing Trident, the British government set itself to recruiting large numbers of British Asian youngsters as professional servicemen in new army regiments that could give them pride in their citizenship, honour in society and real career opportunities for their future lives?
It should be the British government recruiting the energies and enthusiasm of young British Asian men as peacekeepers around the world in support of an ethical foreign policy, not terrorists enlisting them to spread death and destruction.
CLLR FARUQUE ANSARI
Lib Dem, Kentish Town Ward