Saturday 22 January 2011

Muslimah WW2 Heroine: Noor Inayat Jaan

Earlier this month the Independent (4 January 2010) reported on Noor Inayat Khan, the Indian Muslimah who acted as a spy for the British in occuppied France during World War Two. I was dissappointed I had never heard of her, but the newspaper mentions her because of the launch of a campaign to raise £100,000 for a bronze bust of her in central London, the first memorial in Britain to either a Muslim or an Asian woman. The article describes how Noor Inayat Khan ended up in France:

"It may have been tales of his ferocity in battle told by her father, Hazrat, which steeled Noor to carry a pistol through the streets of Paris, but she was not a natural warrior. Suffused with Sufism's creed of non-violence, she studied child psychology at the Sorbonne and became a children's writer in the 1930s.

But when war broke out in 1939, Noor and one of her brothers, Vilayat, decided they had to travel to London, setting aside a fervent support of Indian independence which had brought their father into contact with Mahatma Gandhi and dedicating themselves to what they saw as the greater evil of Nazi Germany.

After she was rejected by the Women's Auxillary Air Force, her fluent French, quiet dedication and training in radio transmitting were spotted by SOE officers.

Despite being tortured by the Gestapo during 10 months of imprisonment, she had revealed nothing of use to her interrogators. Her last act was to shout "Liberté!". It is a tale of great courage which has long been recognised on the other side of the Channel, where there are two memorials and a ceremony is held each year to mark Noor's death. But in Britain, the contribution of this Anglo-Indian heroine who gave her life to defeat Nazism has been forgotten."

You can read the full article here.

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