New appointments: UK Royal Air Force gets first Muslim, Sikh padres

LONDON: For the first time in its history, British Air Force, a Sikh and a Muslim “Clerics” have joined the Royal Air Force Chaplain’s Branch.

Kenya-born Flight Lieutenant Ali Omar becomes the first Muslim chaplain while Flight Lieutenant Mandeep Kaur, grew up in Punjab was chosen to be the first Sikh chaplain.

Both Ali Omar and Kaur completed their reservist officer training and graduated at Royal Air Force (RAF) College Cranwell to a part of the British forces.

“A first for the Royal Air Force and the British Military, a Sikh Chaplain and Muslim Padre have graduated as RAF Chaplains following Initial Officer Training at the RAF College Cranwell,” read the tweet.

Kaur was selected as a chaplain while studying for her engineering doctorate in the UK whereas Omar completed a masters degree at Portsmouth University in translation studies.

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Both Padres will now be tasked with providing “spiritual and welfare support to all soldiers, sailors, airmen and women, and their families. They deploy on operations and aboard ships when they go on long deployments,” the defense ministry official said.”Padres can also go out on patrols and live on the front line, on hand for when personnel needs them,” it notes.

Following the graduation ceremony, Chaplain (Flight Lieutenant) Ali Omar said: “My role in the RAF as a flagbearer of the Muslim Chaplaincy will see me work with the RAF Chaplaincy branch to negotiate and establish the place of World Faith Chaplaincy within the RAF.