A hate preacher sparked outrage last night by urging British Muslims not to wear poppies.
Anjem Choudary said any Muslim who wore the symbol of respect was betraying his religion and backing “British nationalism”.
Choudary, a right-hand man of exiled cleric Omar Bakri Mohammed, 47, was responding to news that poppy sales were down in areas of the country with a high population of Muslims.
The vast majority of Brits wear poppies to remember victims of all wars fought by British citizens, including Muslims.
But Choudary, 41, said: “This is not something we should be supporting. We are not sanctioned to support poppies by the Sharia law.
“We’re talking about the Second World War and this doesn’t have anything to do with Muslims.
Muslims are not allowed to participate in anything that is clearly British nationalism.” The call comes days after Choudary, whose family lives on £25,000-a-year benefits, warned British Muslims that giving sweets to children on Halloween is “the greatest crime any person can commit”.
But other British Muslims feel differently. Dewsbury MP Shahid Malik, the Government’s first-ever Muslim minister, said: “As patron of the Royal British Legion in Dewsbury I’ll be selling poppies in the town centre this Saturday.
“I think it’s really important to remember the freedoms we enjoy come at a price and sometimes the ultimate price.
“During the Second World War 2.5 million Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and Indians formed the largest volunteer army in history and some of my relatives were prisoners of war of the Japanese in Burma.
“The truth is that no matter what your background, we all must remember that people died for this country and the freedoms we hold dear and that is why I’m proud to wear my poppy.”
Meanwhile, there was fury yesterday after it was revealed that Muslim strongholds have become no-go zones for poppy sellers.
A Daily Star inquiry showed a lack of support in certain areas in Leeds, Bradford, Dewsbury and Derby, where many shopkeepers claimed never to have heard of them.
But last night the English Democrats urged Brits to “wear their poppies with pride” and said the issue was a result of multiculturalism.
The group’s chairman, Robin Tillbrook, said: “The poppy signifies exactly what our ancestors did for us fighting for our country during the wars. It represents the sacrifice of millions of lives over the years and it is important for every generation to remember that.
“The problem with multiculturalism is that these people want to live in our country but don’t want to be a part of Britain’s culture and history.
“They should be willing to become Brits and wear our poppies with pride.”
Yesterday the Duke of Edinburgh, 87, honoured fallen servicemen and women by opening the Royal British Legion’s Fields of Remembrance in Westminster Abbey.
And celebrities across the world have been backing the appeal with stars including Brad Pitt, 44, and Angelina Jolie, 33, and classical singer Katherine Jenkins, 28, wearing their poppies with pride.
This year a whopping 38million poppies have been ordered – 2m up on last year and 10m more than 10 years ago.