Afghan Journal

Lifting the veil on conflict, culture and politics

British army shoots itself in row over Afghan “mosque” models ?

April 9, 2010
Members of the Black Watch, 3rd Battalion the Royal Regiment of Scotland  at the Black Watch Memorial at Aberfeldy in Scotland following the end of their deployment in Afghanistan. By Russell Cheyne

Members of the Black Watch, 3rd Battalion the Royal Regiment of Scotland at the Black Watch Memorial at Aberfeldy in Scotland following the end of their deployment in Afghanistan. By Russell Cheyne

The British Ministry of Defence has apologised after Muslims complained that it was using replicas of mosques at a firing range  in northern England to train soldiers ahead of deployment in Afghanistan.

Relations between Muslims and the military are already fragile, so what’s the point of  testing them even more by suggesting that mosques were places of danger, the Bradford Council of Mosques said, according to The Independent. The green-domed structures erected at the end of the firing range in north Yorkshire must be taken down, the council said.

A British military source told Reuters that the one-dimensional hardboard structures are not used as direct targets  but are intended to provide a more “realistic” background for soldiers training ahead of deployment in Afghanistan.  Other “generic eastern silhouettes” used include palm trees and irrigation ditches to recreate the Afghan setting soldiers would face there.   It was never the intention for the structures to look like or replicate mosques, the Defence Ministry said,  offering an apology if any offence had been caused. It said it had sought a meeting with the representatives of the community to find a way forward.

It’s not like they recreated a whole Afghan village with a mosque in it to familiarise soldiers,  says Ishtiaq Ahmed, a spokesman for the Bradford Council of Mosques.  “If they had a replica of a street or a village in Afghanistan with a mosque as a kind of location point we would understand that, but these are simply six or seven structures in the direct shooting line which anyone looking at would come to the obvious conclusion that they are mosques.”  Community leaders are even more angry because the provocation comes just when they were trying to help the army recruit more Muslims, the BBC said.

Is it really the best way to win Afghan hearts and minds for soldiers starting their tour of duty ? Or a staggering own goal ?

Some people think its a bit of an over-reaction and even misleading. Douglas Murray, writing in The Telegraph blog, said the fact is that British, and U.S. troops for that matter, are forbidden to fire at mosques or other places of worship under the rules of engagement.  But that will be forgotten in the current uproar, he says and instead the idea that soldiers are trained to shoot at mosques will get embedded.


Do you think that situaion will change some day?


yes it would be better to have replicas of oil and huge Gas fields on the firing range to make it authentic of the actual WAR

Posted by NOT BORN YESTERDAY | Report as abusive

Brits are very cunning. The monarch has no religion. They have done this intentionally to invoke the Muslim anger and use them to destroy churches in Muslim Countries, that would invoke anger in West, thus manufacturing the naive western citizen consent to deal a final and fatal blow to Muslims.

Firing on pictures of mosques or bombing actual mosques (as I have seen footage of US Soldiers doing in Afghanistan) is the equivalent of firing at pictures of a Christian Church or bombing a Christian church. How outraged would you be if Taliban were practicing for targeting churches and bombing churches? a4&feature=related u8&feature=related

Posted by Finious | Report as abusive

The use of models of mosques can not be seen as unoffensive due to the very fact terrorists use mosque as a firing position to pick of allied troops.
I do find it strange Muslims complaining about mosques that are models and not the fact mosques are being used to hide explosives and weapons and used as a place for terrorists to hide and shoot from.
UK Muslims tend to complain about anything but what they really need to complain about and that is radical Islam in the UK. and this will be a big election question as the people of the UK see there nation muslimified and the rights of Muslims are always taken over the rights of anyone else.

Posted by James Whymington | Report as abusive

what is the Bradford council of mosques ? a few mosques in Bradford get together then complain. why do you Muslims in the UK always complain?. may be you will like it better if you decided to LEAVE the UK and then you can do what you want..problem is Asian nations do not pay you to sit on your arse all day while your wives give birth to the new Hamas army.
UK Muslims will not have it there way anymore though if the Conservatives win as they will have a ZERO limit on immigration into the UK….people are just sick and tired of Muslims complaining about anything and the councils are so PC they crap themselves when the term Islam is mentioned…time councils like Bradford stopped the Inhalation of a town by changing its structure to a point you may as well change the name of Bradford to Bradforistan

Posted by Samantha Reed | Report as abusive

The West in general is getting just what it deserves as a result of indiscriminate immigration policies, and we, the little people on the street are going to have to deal with these problems of cultural incompatibility for a very long time to come.

Posted by Charles | Report as abusive

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