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Religiously prejudiced attack: Mr. Asad Shah killed for anti-extremist Videos


Ahmadi Shopkeeper murdered in Scotland

Mr Asad Shah

Glasgow, UK, 10.04.2016 (IHRC/FOREF) – A 32-year-old man has been arrested in relation to the deadly stabbing of the Ahmadi shopkeeper Mr. Asad Shah (40). According to police investigators, the murderer had already left for Glasgow before Mr. Shah posted Easter greetings on Facebook. Mr. Asad‘s YouTube video where he preached on religious issues and spoke against extremism are thus cited to be the real reason behind his murder.

The bearded killer is understood to have travelled from his home in Bradford to Mr Shah’s store in Glasgow. Police suspect the incident was ‚religiously prejudiced‘. It is claimed Mr Shah was set upon because he belonged to the Ahmadiyya community, which promotes peace and tolerance but has been persecuted by members of orthodox Islamic sects in Pakistan. His murder is believed to be the first major anti-Ahmadi incident in the UK, and has sparked fears Islamic sectarianism has spread to Britain.

Following the murder of Mr Shah, a radical Pakistani organization called Khatme Nabuwwat and its affiliate in the UK even congratulated all Muslims on the murder. Its Facebook page contains a gloating message on the cold blooded murder, saying “Congratulations to all Muslims.” The closed Facebook group is strongly against the Ahmadiyya sect of Islam. The social media page has more than 13,000 members and regularly incites sectarian hatred. Khatme Nabuwatt has taken upon itself to guard the ideology of finality of prophet hood and is dedicated to eradicating Ahmadi Muslims in Pakista. The organization openly incites hatred and calls for Ahmadis to be killed. It is terryfing that they now seem to be able to operate in the UK.

Mr. Asad‘s murder is believed to be the first major anti-Ahmadi incident in the UK, and has sparked fears Islamic sectarianism is spreading. Asad‘s family are also receiving threats and have been advised by the police not to disclose their location.

A few days before Asad Shah‘s murder, the Imam of the Grand Central Mosque in Glasgow, Scotland‘s biggest mosque, belonging to the majority Sunni sect of Islam, was caught posting a message on the internet praising the Muslim extremist who murdered Pakistani governor Salman Taseer for opposing blasphemy laws. A prominent figure, the mufti was followed and respected by many Muslims of the area. Such religious zealotry has cost many innocents their lives, yet the Islamic state of Pakistan refuses to acknowledge its role in curbing sectarian violence.

The Ahmadiyya community, an Islamic reform group, seems to fuel the hatred against them. Pakistan‘s orthodox clergy, branding its own version of Islam, has recently started an agitation against the hanging of Mumtaz Qadri, the self-professed murderer of the ex-governor of Punjab. As part of its agitation, the group is now staging a sit-in in front of the parliament in Islamabad. Among the 10-point charter of demands presented to the media, is a demand that “all Ahmadis should be expelled from the country and that all Ahmadis working in government departments should be terminated from service.” The protestors have refused to end their protest until their demands are met. “If the Ahmadis are not expelled from Pakistan, they will not be safe anywhere in the world.”

Who are the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community?
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community was founded in 1889 in British controlled northern India, today’s Lahore (Pakistan). The community identifies itself as a Muslim movement and follows the teachings of the Qur’an. The community’s website claims to have tens of millions of members across 206 countries. Its current headquarters are located in London, UK. The Ahmadiyya community derives its name from its founder Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, who was born in 1835 and was regarded by his followers as the messiah and a prophet. Ghulam Ahmad saw himself as a reformer of Islam and claimed to have been chosen by Allah. The community rejects any form of terrorism. It also endorses a spiritual caliphate and thus the separation of the mosque and the state.

Systematic Persecution of the Ahmadiyya community in Lahore, Pakistan
Years of institutionalized discrimination against the Ahmadiyya community in Pakistan and its persistent vilification have led to extreme apathy, where even the mass murder of Ahmadis in Lahore on 28 May 2010 failed to elicit any kind of public outrage. The murder of an Ahmadi is in fact praised and encouraged by the so called guardians of Islam, and the murderer is extolled and revered. In a country where murderers are celebrated and Ahmadi Noble prize winner Dr. Abdus Salam is vilified, it is only natural that society‘s fault lines deepen each day. Hate crimes against the Ahmadi community spiraled out of control since the 1970s, when they were declared non-Muslims. As a result, the community‘s headquarters moved from Pakistan to Britain in the 1980s, and is currently based in Morden, south London. The murder of Asad Shah in a western state underpins the sad reality that sectarian violence is no longer confined to conservative states; it has now spread its tentacles to countries allowing asylum and a safe refuge to the beleaguered community. The murder was indeed a message to the Ahmadi community that they are not safe wherever in the world they may be.

Pakistani authorities have so far shown no political interest in curbing the activities of these groups. The hate speech in Pakistani media against the Ahmadis for instance, largely goes unnoticed by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA). The trend of violence is deliberately allowed to spiral out of control, making it difficult for the beleaguered Ahmadis to live in Pakistan. The violence has now become imminent in foreign Western countries as well, due to the negligence of the Pakistani authorities who continue to allow religious zealots to spew hatred.

The utter disregard of rule of law and complete impunity to law enforcement agencies is a recipe for disaster for Pakistan‘s minorities including Christians, who despite having the constitutional guarantee of state protection are left to fend for themselves. Since its inception, Pakistan has been battling a religious existential fight with itself. A country attained in the name of religion is yet to establish the definition of a Muslim. A Sunni Muslim Punjabi male is what best confirms to the state ideology and orthodox theology. No longer a silent spectator in systematic and continuous religious persecution, the state has now become an active abettor. The judiciary also appears complacent and meek in the face religious fundamentalism and orthodox clergy who are bent on enforcing and implementing the firebrand version of Wahhabism, a radical movement that claims to restore Islam to its original form.

Write an appeal letter to UK and Pakistani authorities to take action against hate preachers and for the restoration of the Pakistani criminal justice system. See more information here.


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