The chairman of Bucks County Council condemned the recent terrorist attacks in Paris during a special reception to honour local armed forces personnel.
Muslim Zahir Mohammed spoke in front of more than 100 miltary and civic guests – including nine recently back from tours of duty in Afghanistan, Cyprus and the Falkland Islands – at the reception at the Judges Lodgings in Aylesbury.
Also at the reception were army reservists and Royal Air Force personnel from Halton and High Wycombe bases, RAF Commanding Officers Group Captain Adrian Burns from Halton and Group Captain Frank Clifford from High Wycombe, Air Officer Commanding No2 Group Air Vice Marshall Sean Reynolds and Buckinghamshire’s Lord Lieutenant Sir Henry Aubrey-Fletcher, the Queen’s representative in the county.
In his speech, Mr Mohammed highlighted the importance of the freedom, security and safety enjoyed by the public – which he said the armed forces worked to preserve – and how these had been brought into sharp focus by the murders of editorial staff at satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris on January 7.
Mr Mohammed said “As a Muslim, I am disgusted by the killing of civilians, and there is no place in Islam for such killings. Sadly, this is not the Islam the extremists wanted to know.
“The prophet came as a mercy, and as a perfection of character to mankind, and he forgave many of the likes of Charlie Hebdo.”
As the county’s Armed Forces Champion, he continued by saying the council was very fortunate to have strong links with the services in Buckinghamshire.
He said: “These men and women play a fantastic role, serving our country courageously and often in dangerous places, and I’m pleased that we can recognise their service in this way.”
He told guests: “I believe you serve in the best tradition of the armed forces, keeping us safe, keeping our borders safe, as well as assisting with national and international emergencies.”
He urged guests to honour the Services past and present by supporting the 2015 Armed Forces Day event, planned at Aylesbury Rugby Club on June 27.
Links between civilian and service communities have been strengthened since 2012 through Buckinghamshire’s Armed Forces Covenant, which has opened the way to fund joint initiatives to the tune of £430,000.
Included is a £45,000 grant to support the Royal British Legion’s Bravo 22 Buckinghamshire Armed Forces project, a pilot programme in partnership with Aylesbury’s Waterside Theatre for involving serving wounded, injured and sick military personnel in creating, producing and performing a theatrical production.
Other projects since the launch of Buckinghamshire’s Armed Forces Community Convenant include the refurbishment of Halton Combined School’s playground, renovation of the garden areas of the two RAF station-supported childcare facilities, a new emergency response vehicle for the RAF to support the civilian ambulance service and a leading initiative helping Buckinghamshire’s 200 or so service personnel who leave every year to find civilian jobs.