Press Release

Ties that bind: how the story of Britain’s Muslim Soldiers can forge a national identity

Press Release from Policy Exchange

This new study from Policy Exchange finds that the long and proud record of Muslim service in the British armed forces provides much evidence to combat the divisive propaganda of both the far right and hardline Islamists.

Both groups claim that genuine belief in Islam is a barrier to pursuing both a military career and full participation in British society.

But author Shiraz Maher points out that during British rule in India Muslim authorities successfully countered Islamist and anti-Allies propaganda even when Britain was at war with the Ottoman Caliphate – the supreme authority in Islam at that time.

He shows that this shared history can provide a shared future, helping form the basis for boosting Muslim recruitment into the British armed forces of today.

Among the study’s recommendations are:

  • The MoD should have less consultation with self-appointed community groups over the appointment of faith-specific chaplains, and should engage with Muslims directly.
  • Contemporary leaders need to increase effort in the same way as Indian Muslim leaders during the First World War who successfully counteracted the propaganda of Germany, the Ottoman Empire and pan-Islamists.
  • The notion that Britain is at war with Islam needs to be confronted more effectively.
  • The heroic record of Commonwealth soldiers in the two World Wars should be more fully reflected in the history curriculum.


A copy of the report can be downloaded at

About the author

Shiraz Maher is a Senior Research Fellow at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR), Kings College London. He is currently writing an intellectual history of al-Qaeda, exploring the development of its political thought by drawing on hitherto unexamined material. Prior to joining ICSR, Maher worked as a Senior Fellow at Policy Exchange.

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