YOUNGSTERS have signed up to Bolton's first Muslim Scouts group.

Around 50 Muslim boys aged eight to 14 performed the three-finger scout salute, symbolising not only the official launch of the group but their duty to God, Queen and country.

The group has been established by Bolton Thinkers Forum - an international organisation concerned about today's society - and is also open to non-Muslim boys.

The group of Scouts and younger Cub Scouts meets at Sunninghill School in Daubhill and were visited on their opening night by Wanderers defender Abdoulaye Meite.

Ismail Momoniat, secretary of the 56th Bolton Thinkers Forum Muslim Scouts, said: "All boys are welcome to join. but the group is based on the Muslim faith. It is exactly the same as non-Christians joining their local church Scouts.

"There are 28 million Scouts around the world and a third of them are Muslim. It is a very well established organisation and some of the parents would have been Scouts when they were younger."

He said the idea of starting the borough's first Muslim scouting movement was in response to the lack of activities for young people and the concerns that more and more young people in the Asian society were turning to drugs.

Father-of-two Mr Momoniat, who lives in Ladybridge, said: "There has been quite a lot in the media about Asians, regardless of whether they are Muslim or not, getting involved in drugs and that is not just against the law but goes against Islam.

"Many of the people on the Thinkers Forum are parents and we wanted to give young Muslim boys something positive to do and take part in from which they can benefit and learn life skills."

He added: "The boys will also have a chance to take part in opportunities such as taking part in residential trips which would not otherwise be open to them. We want to widen their horizons and raise their aspirations."

So far, 18 boys have signed up to become Cub Scouts, and 25 to join the Scouts.

Mr Momoniat said: "We can take a few more Cub Scouts but there is now a waiting list for the Scouts."

Discussions are already taking place to establish a Muslim girl Scouts group.

"We hope to get that up and running in the next two months," said Mr Momoniat.

For more information, call 07946-224599.