United Against Extremism: Glasgow religious leaders come together in wake of Asad Shah murder

MEMBERS OF Glasgow’s Ahmadiyya Muslim community are ‘readjusting’ to life following the death of shopkeeper Asad Shah.

Almost one month after the shopkeeper’s death, Ahmadi leaders said community members were “healing over time” and added that police reassurances had helped them feel safe.

Abdul Abid, President of the Ahmadiyya community in Scotland, made the comments at the launch of a two-week bus campaign against extremism

He said: “The wounds are being healed with the passage of time.

“Hopefully people will be back to normal soon.

“With reassurances from the authorities and the steps taken by them, it’s also helping.

“We are moving toward normalisation.”

Politicians from and religious leaders from faiths including the Church of Scotland, Catholic church, Jewish and Sikh communities joined Ahmadi leaders yesterday to launch the campaign in George Square.

A fleet of 50 buses, with the slogan “United Against Extremism” on their side, will be touring the city over the next two weeks.

Edinburgh and Dundee will also have 25 buses with the same message.

The campaign had been intended to launch later this year however organisers brought it forward following the attack on Mr Shah on March 24.

Mr Abid added: “This is part of a larger campaign throughout the United Kingdom.

“Before the [death] of Asad Shah we had 100 buses in London with the same message, and there was, in the pipeline, a campaign for Scotland but we have brought it forward.

“All the other faiths are united on this front with us and accept that some Muslim groups are still reluctant.”

Charandeep Singh of the Glasgow Sikh community said: “Standing in unity with a community that is facing the most horrific incident, solidarity becomes really important in these cases. Not only does it bring a sense of unity among the different faith communities at a time when someone has taken advantage of differentiation with other communities, we are hoping it brings a sense of empowerment for communities to be celebrating the contribution they are making to Scotland.”

Roy Henderson, a Church of Scotland parish minster in Pollokshaws, said: “This is trying to send out a good message at a tough time.

“It’s very important to show that, while we acknowledge our differences, we live together in the same world as neighbours and communities.

“People who live, go to school and work side by side…we have to get on together.

“Out of our diversity,we can enhance the depth of community spirit.”

Superintendent Jim Baird of Police Scotland’s Safer Communities also attended the event and said the number of hate crimes reported since Mr Shah’s death has stayed relatively stable in Scotland.

He said: ” We have to move forward and we are an open welcoming society with everyone free to worship their own faith and push extremism out to the margins, where it should be.

“After the Paris attacks there was an increase in hate crime reported to the police, but since the Brussels and Lahore attacks, and the incident with Mr Shah we haven’t seen that spike come up.”

“The worry is always that it is not being reported, but we have increased our engagement heavily with communities and they are not experiencing that increase we may have anticipated.”