Sunday, 24 August 2014

Armed forces recruitment from the BME community: offering opportunities to young people

I have written the minister regarding armed forces recruitment being offered to constituents form BME backgrounds. British armed forces have long and proud record of attracting people from various backgrounds to fight for British values of freedom and democracy.

Indian, Pakistani and Gurkha regiments amongst others have a long and distinguished history within the British army.

Employment within the British armed forces can be very rewarding in terms of skills and employment. However I do not believe constituents are being offered such opportunities and I have written to the minister to express my concerns. It is difficult enough getting a decent job in this area. The MoD state that since 2007 the number of Muslims serving in the British Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force has risen by more than 40 per cent but here in Hyndburn that figure does not reflect that statistic.

There are barriers to recruitment and the British Army has a duty in this area to actively encourage and overcome any misperceptions. The British armed forces' first Muslim chaplain says there is no conflict in being a Muslim and fighting for Britain. Imam Asim Hafiz, one of two Islamic advisers to the Ministry of Defence since 2005, says Islam encourages the defence of life and country. There are currently 650 Muslims in the military making up less than 1 per cent of its strength.

It is important that such good and rewarding careers area available to all. The British army must do more in this area to offer opportunities and I will be writing to the minster again to seek assurances that those opportunities are highly visible to those that would wish to consider such a rewarding career.