08 January 2015

Noor Inayat Khan (1914-44), code-name Madeleine

The BBC has a radio documentary on my favourite spy, Noor Inayat Khan. She's probably the only spy who was also a harpist and a Sufi. (Her father was the Sufi teacher Inayat Khan and her mother was his American wife Ameena Begum.)

She spent her tragically brief career working for the British Special Operations Executive (SOE) in occupied France, relaying information to and from London and aiding the French resistance. She kept her cool after the collapse of the SOE's network in Paris but was betrayed, tortured, and eventually shot in Dachau.

On nice days, I visit Noor in Bloomsbury. In 2012, a bust of her was installed in Gordon Square. As it happens, I've also spent a lot of time at her father's dargah in Nizamuddin in Delhi.

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The recent BBC documentary on the Kinshasa Symphony Orchestra was also great.

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