Source: Wasim Saroya, Ahmadiyya Community Missioanry in Bosnia and Selwenia
Warning over Wahhabism, influence of internet and media focus on extremist groups at security and cohesion debate
Politicians, think tanks, religious leaders and academics came together for a landmark conference at the European Parliament to highlight the threats posed by religious extremism and to seek ways of combating them.
Murder in the Name of God: a policy debate in the European Parliament on the rise of extremism internationally and its impact on European security and cohesion (20th September 2011) was hosted by Dr Charles Tannock MEP and the UK All Party Parliamentary Group for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.
More than 350 delegates from 16 countries heard Dr Charles Tannock MEP, Member of Human Rights Committee, Foreign Affairs Committee and Vice-President of the EP delegation to NATO Parliamentary Assembly; Mr Rafiq Hayat, National UK President of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association, Dr John Bew, Co-Director, International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation; and Sofia Lemmetyinen, EU Liaison Officer for Christian Solidarity Worldwide.
The event also featured a special message from His Holiness Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad in which he called for greater tolerance and for the respect of human rights, noting that:
“Polarisation has beset the world, whether it is manifested in the discriminatory laws of Pakistan, Indonesia or Saudi Arabia that are used to target smaller religious groups, or the laws in Western countries that target manifestations of religious observances, such as the use of the hijab in France or the minaret in Switzerland.
“Extremist ideology has an international impact. If the countries do not check such extremism then it will spread.”
Dr Bew warned of the ‘westernisation’ of Al Qaeda and the use of the internet to spread the extremists’ creed. The battle for second generation Muslim youth in Europe was being won by the extremists, he warned.
Mr Hayat warned of the alarming spread of a narrow and intolerant interpretation of Islam in Pakistan and other countries, which is coming to Europe through media such as satellite television and the internet.
Sofia Lemmetyinen highlighted research that showed that imposing curbs on religious freedom actually created violent religious persecution.
Dr Charles Tannock MEP underlined the threat of Wahhabism with particular reference to some of its literature which was banned in the UK, which targeted Jews and Christians. He also said:
“Some countries do too little either directly or indirectly to stem the growth of extremist thinking, both in their own countries domestically and abroad. Saudi Arabia, via certain Islamic charities, operating from its own soil, for example, is a well known supporter of hard-line Wahhabi ideas both at home and abroad.
“Two weeks ago, I met the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, who complained bitterly about Saudi money being used to build Wahhabi inspired madrassahs in his country which were radicalising Ethiopia’s Muslim minority that have traditionally co-existed peacefully for centuries with the Christian majority.”
Tunne Kellam MEP gave the closing remarks and said the European Union should come together to support the Ahmadiyya Community and other minority groups to prevent persecution in Pakistan, Indonesia and other countries.
The event included a lively question and answer session. In this Mr Mohammad Ayub, First Secretary to the Embassy of Pakistan in Belgium denied that Ahmadi Muslims had been deprived the right to vote or had been subject to human rights violations in Pakistan. He said:
“Any notion that Ahmadiyyas as community have been subject to human rights violations in Pakistan is completely devoid of facts.”
Mr Rafiq Hayat, National President of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community UK said:
“This was an historic event that focused on the scourge of international extremism. It is vital that the international community works together to protect citizens from the violence that is emerging from extremist groups.
“Our community has been persecuted in Pakistan for decades and is denied the right to vote – it is unfortunate that the Pakistan representative failed to acknowledge the facts on the ground by virtue of the Pakistan Constitution, Ordinance XX and Chief Executive Order 15.
“We fear that in Pakistan, and other countries such as Indonesia, much more needs to be done as violent religious extremism is a growing threat to all communities and must be nipped in the bud.
“Furthermore, countries like Saudi Arabia that give funding to other groups need to be responsible to ensure that such funding is not abused for the purpose of promoting radicalisation.”
In his message His Holiness Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad also recommended that:
“…there should be tolerance and respect for the lives of other human beings. We need to replace fear with understanding and instead of retaliation, display patience and forbearance. Our legislation should prevent hatred and discrimination and the administration of justice must protect the rights of all individuals.”
He further noted:
“No religion of the world advocates cruelty or barbarism, because religion comes directly from God, Who loves His Creation very much.”
Categories: Human Rights