He wasn’t awarded a Muslim Victoria Cross or a Mohammed Cross or a Victoria Crescent. He was honored with the same decoration as the other remarkable soldiers of the King who showed extraordinary valor in the face of the enemy. And, at Armistice and Remembrance Day observances, until his death in 1971, Subedar (as he was by then) Khan wore the same poppy as his comrades – the same poppy that bloomed in the blood-drenched Flanders fields where every other member of his unit died.
One hundred years on, why is that not enough for British Muslims? Why is it necessary that the customary form of honor that has endured from Subedar Khan’s day to ours be changed? Amidst all the beheadings and shootings and hatchet attacks and vehicular homicides of recent weeks, I find myself returning to David Solway’s characterization of subtler provocations: