NEWS
17/10/2018 11:47 BST | Updated 17/10/2018 16:53 BST

Noor Inayat Khan On The New £50 Would Be The First Ethnic Minority On A UK Banknote

Campaign begins to honour an 'almost forgotten hero'.

Second World War heroine Noor Inayat Khan could become the first ethnic minority featured on a British banknote, if a new campaign is successful.

Last week, the Treasury announced plans to redesign the £50 note ahead of issuing polymer versions of it, inviting members of the public to suggest whose face should appear.

Zehra Zaidi, who is behind the campaign, set up a change.org page she set up on Tuesday.

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Noor Inayat Khan

On the page she describes Khan - who was of Indian descent - as someone who “fought for the freedoms that we have today”.

Speaking to HuffPost UK on Wednesday, Zaidi said: “I think her wider message is so important in a time when there has been a rise in populism, racism and division.

“Some of the best ways to counter hate, in my opinion, are to show positive examples of how people contribute to community, civic and public life and to use these examples to bring people together and to show we have more in common than what divides us.

“Noor is one such incredible example whose story resonates today.”

She’s also pointed out that only one Bank of England note has ever featured a woman (Jane Austen), apart from the Queen.

The campaign is being backed Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, who told HuffPost UK that Noor “was a Muslim patriot who made the ultimate sacrifice”.

“She gave her life for our country defending the freedoms we all now enjoy,” she said. “Where too often the debate in our media is about questioning the loyalty of British Muslims, Noor Inayat Khan as the face of our £50 note would be an important message of unity that recognises courage and patriotism whatever form it takes.”

It also has the support of the Noor Inayat Khan Memorial Trust, who successfully campaigned for a statue of Khan to be erected in 2012.

Khan’s family moved from Paris to the UK when the Second World War broke out and she joined the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force, before being recruited to the Special Operations Executive unit two years later.

She then became the first female radio operator to move into occupied France in 1943, working in Paris.

After running a cell of agents across Europe, she was arrested and executed by the Gestapo. Khan was posthumously awarded the George Cross in 1949.

Other suggestions for the £50 note include Mary Seacole, a pioneering nurse and Crimean War hero, Professor Stephen Hawking and David Bowie.