This weekend the Lead Commissioner, Sara Khan, will speak at the Annual Convention (Jalsa Salana) of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community UK.
Speaking ahead of the event, Sara shared her thoughts with the CCE blog:
“I am looking forward to attending and speaking at the Convention which is a celebration of the Ahmadiyya Community’s commitment to peace and tolerance.
I will be emphasising the importance of diversity and pluralism and the Commission’s commitment to religious freedom.
The hatred, intolerance and discrimination experienced by Ahmadiyyas for what they believe has no place in our society. They have sadly been boycotted, ostracised and leaflets have been spread calling for their death. In 2016 Glasgow based Ahmadiyya shopkeeper, Asad Shah, was murdered because of religious extremism and intolerance.
Too often those promoting anti Ahmadiyya hatred wear a face of respectability and legitimacy. Last week I raised concerns about Sheikh Hassan Haseeb ur Rehman, a prominent Muslim preacher in Pakistan who visited the UK to talk about countering terrorism and interfaith dialogue.
However behind these fine words, he has a history of promoting hatred and intolerance. He described Mumtaz Qadri who murdered Pakistani Governor, Salman Taseer who challenged the country’s blasphemy laws as a “martyr” and “holy warrior.” The same laws that are used to persecute the Ahmadiyya.
This is an important part of the story of extremism in 2018. Extremists deliberately misuse the language of rights and freedom to cloak their hate in respectability or “justice” when it is anything but.
But there are brave individuals and groups making a difference. Not least the Ahmadiyya Muslim community’s UnitedAgainstExtremism campaign. But too often counter extremists receive more abuse than support
This reflects a wider challenge – the increasing viciousness of public debate. We have lost the art of respectfully agreeing to disagree.
I want to help everyone do more to challenge extremism. First, we need to understand it better. That is why I have launched an evidence gathering drive and will publish a study into all forms of extremism. This will be underpinned by engagement and the kind of constructive discussions I look forward to having this weekend.
The Ahmadiyya community has set up its official base in this country because they recognise the guarantee of freedom we give to those of any faith, or none. I am proud that our country defends and protects the rights of religious minorities to practice their faith. We cannot however be complacent about the threats to that right which extremists seek to do away with.”