Past Events

The City Circle is an open circle for open minds

Forgotten Soldiers: The Muslim Contribution in the Two World Wars

Date: Friday 10 November 2017

Time: 18.45 - 20.30

Venue: Abrar House, 45 Crawford Place, London W1H 4LP

Speakers: Shrabani Basu and Hayyan Ayaz Bhabha

Millions of Muslim soldiers fought alongside British troops during World War I and World War II, yet their contribution to European history is largely unknown.

In World War I alone, 400,000 Muslim forces from present-day Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan fought for Britain. In total, more than 885,000 Muslims fought with the Allies in World War I, including from Egypt, the Middle East, and Africa. Over 2 million Muslims are thought to have served in World War II. 161,000 Muslim soldiers lost their lives during both wars just from the Indian subcontinent.

As the UK prepares for Remembrance Day, join us as the panel explores the legacy of Muslim soldiers in both World Wars and discusses the implication of this history for European Muslims and wider society today.


Shrabani Basu, journalist, writer, and Founder of Noor Inayat Khan Memorial Trust

Shrabani Basu is a journalist, writer, and the founder of Noor Inayat Khan Memorial Trust. Noor Inayat Khan was a female spy for the British, and in 2010, Shrabani set up the Trust to ensure that Noor’s story and sacrifice were preserved for the next generation. Her work to preserve the memory of the World War II heroine has been commended in the House of Lords. This year, her research led to a film adaption of her book Victoria and Abdul: The True Story of the Queen's Closest Confidant. Shrabani began her career as a trainee journalist in the bustling offices of The Times of India in Bombay. She moved to London in 1987 and has since then been the correspondent of Calcutta-based newspaper Ananda Bazar Patrika and The Telegraph. Follow her on Twitter: @shrabanibasu_

Hayyan Ayaz Bhabha, Secretary, All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims and Executive Director, The Muslim Experience in WW1

Hayyan Ayaz Bhabha is a barrister (non-practising) who has worked as a parliamentary researcher since 2011. He was Secretary of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Islamophobia (now Secretary of the APPG on British Muslims), and an independent member of the cross-government Anti-Muslim Hatred Working Group. As such, he advises Ministers, Parliamentarians, the police, CPS and various departments. He is also Executive Director of The Muslim Experience in WW1 - an archival project of the Forgotten Heroes 14-19 Foundation, which aims to challenge anti-Muslim sentiment and extremism of all sorts by highlighting the unknown contribution of over 2 million Muslim soldiers and labourers who contributed to the history of Europe. Follow him on Twitter: @HayyanAyaz

Book sale

Copies of Shrabani Basu's books will be on sale prior to the talk starting. Remember to bring cash - credit/debit card transactions will not be possible.

Additional details

Free entrance. All welcome. Prayer space available. Street parking free from 18:30. Doors open at 18:45 and the talk begins at 19:00. If you have any questions, please contact the event organiser:

Video now online

The video for this talk is now available on the City Circle YouTube channel. To watch, click here.