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British-Muslim Spy in World War II, Noor Inayat Khan, May Grace 50-pound currency note

LONDON: The face of a British Muslim spy in World War II, Noor Inayat Khan, may likely be appear on the new 50-pound British currency note.

A campaign is gaining momentum wherein people are urging the spy lady to be featured on the redesigned 50-pound note.

After the Bank of England recent announcement for a new polymer version of the large denomination note to be printed from 2020 and indicated that it would invite public nominees to appear on the new note.

An online petition in favour of the campaign has already garnered over 1,200 signatures, calling for Noor Enayat Khan, who is said to be a descendant of Tipu Sultan and daughter of Indian Sufi Hazrat Inayat Khan, to be considered as the first ethnic minority British woman to be honoured on the currency.

Shrabani Basu, the author of Khan’s biography ‘Spy Princess’ and chair of the Noor Inayat Khan Memorial Trust remarked:”I am absolutely delighted that the story of Noor Inayat Khan has inspired so many people and that she has become an icon. Noor was an extraordinary war heroine.”

The trust was set up in 2010 to campaign for a memorial in honour of the war-time spy, who had been recruited by Britain’s Special Operations Executive (SOE) and infiltrated beyond enemy lines before being captured and killed by the Nazis in 1944, when she was only 30.

Khan’s memorial bust now has a permanent home at Gordon Square in central London, with the trust also lobbying for a commemorative blue plaque to mark the house nearby where she spent time with her family.

The campaign has found the backing of prominent political leaders, historians and academics in the UK, with many taking on social media to voice their support.

Noor Inayat Khan, born in Moscow to an Indian father and American mother, was raised in Paris and Britain.

She joined the British war effort against fascism and went on to become the first female radio operator to be infiltrated into Nazi-occupied France before she was captured, tortured and killed at the Dachau concentration camp in Nazi Germany.

“In this age, when we see a rise in anti-semitism, anti-Muslim hatred and intolerance, it is important that we continue to build bridges and show positive contributions from Britain’s ethnic and religious minorities, not least one of World War II’s almost forgotten heroes, a British Muslim woman,” said social activist Zehra Zaidi in the online petition she started to campaign for Khan as the face of the new banknote.

The 50-pound currency will be the final redesigned note to go into circulation after notes in the denomination of 5 and 10 have already been reissued in polymer. The new 20-pound polymer note will go into circulation from 2020 when the 50-pound is set to go into print to be circulated later.

The Bank of England said it will announce a character selection process for the new 50-pound note in due course, which will seek nominations from the public for potential characters to appear on the new note.

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