Forest Gate mosque makes history with first exhibition

An audience of 120 people attended the exhibition's opening which included a eulogy to those who fou

An audience of 120 people attended the exhibition's opening which included a eulogy to those who fought in the First World War. - Credit: Archant

An often untold period in history is being celebrated in an exhibition claimed to be the first ever staged in a British mosque.

The display of photographs and stories of south Asian soldiers who fought in the First World War went on show on Saturday in the Minhaj-ul-Quran Educational Centre in Forest Gate.

Speaking about the opening night of the “Far from the Western Front” exhibition, which has also been shown at the Royal Geographical Society, organiser and community development executive Shahid Mahmood, said: “It went very well. We called it a grand opening and it certainly lived up to its title.”

Explaining why the free exhibition, which runs until March 27, is housed in an especially curtained-off prayer area of the mosque, Shahid said the organisers wanted an audience which might not go to see it in a museum to get the chance.

“We thought if the people won’t go to the museum, then we will take the museum to the people,” Shahid said.

However, according to some Islamic experts, taking and exhibiting pictures is considered as forbidden in some circles.

But Shahid said: “It’s brave, but it’s important. We have to be very, very careful. This was an occasion to bring all the communities together and create bridges of peace at a time when a minority of people wish to build walls and breaks bonds of understanding and harmony.”

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According to Shahid, one and a half million Indian soldiers served in the war with more than 80,000 losing their lives.

He added: “History has mostly forgotten these sacrifices. Unfortunately, the contributions of south Asians, and Afro-Caribbeans, during the war is often ignored and it has to be liberated.”

The exhibition’s opening times are Monday to Thursday from 10am to 5pm; from 10am to 12pm and 3pm to 5pm on Fridays and 10am to 7pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

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