Afghan Journal

Lifting the veil on conflict, culture and politics

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

Photo
- 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.

  •