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First moves to make Remembrance Day inclusive

Norfolk’s fire service removed religious aspects from the staff Remembrance Day event this year, saying that some staff had felt excluded in previous years because of religious references.

"This is an event that should involve us all. It’s time for the vicars to stand aside and for new, non-religious events to be introduced.”

- Terry Sanderson, President of the National Secular Society.

Chief fire officer Nigel Williams explained: “Following last year’s remembrance there were a number of different views voiced by staff on the nature of our headquarters’ service. With this in mind we have decided that this year our commemoration will not be linked to any specific faith or belief but will still offer people the chance to remember together. I hope and believe this will make our Remembrance as inclusive as possible.”

Mr Williams said colleagues who died in fires would be remembered alongside forces personnel in the service. A traditional wreath-laying followed the silence.

Meanwhile, the Muslim Council of Britain said: “We need to remind not only the Muslim community but also the general public that the Muslim contribution to the defence of this nation runs deep.” MCB Secretary General Farooq Murad said that 3.5 million soldiers from the Indian subcontinent had fought for Britain during the conflicts and tens of thousands had died.

Terry Sanderson, President of the National Secular Society, said: “It is completely wrong that that the Church of England continues to dominate this national event. The Norfolk Fire Service has shown sensitivity in ensuring that people don’t feel excluded, or sense that their forebears’ sacrifices are undervalued because they are not Christian or even believers. This is an event that should involve us all. It’s time for the vicars to stand aside and for new, non-religious events to be introduced.”