Scotland Yard warns Muslims against sectarian feuds after Glasgow murder

theguardian: by Mark Townsend —

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe visits mosque in support of 30,000-strong Ahmadiyya community following the killing of shopkeeper Asad Shah last month

Asad Shah, an Ahmadi, was stabbed to death by another Muslim outside his Glasgow shop.


The head of Scotland Yard has warned British Muslims that attacks on a minority Islamic sect will not be tolerated amid concern over the growing sectarianism on UK streets that recently led to the murder of a British shopkeeper.

Bernard Hogan-Howe, responding to reports of crime against members of the Ahmadiyya sect, said his officers would “robustly police anyone who carries out or threatens violence or, indeed, any other crime” against the 30,000-strong Ahmadiyya community.

Disquiet over the levels of anti-Ahmadiyya sentiment prompted the Metropolitan police commissioner on Friday afternoon to make a personal visit to Britain’s largest mosque, the 10,000-capacity Baitul Futuh in Morden, south London, which belongs to the Ahmadiyya community, in an attempt to reassure followers.

An Ahmadiyya shopkeeper, Asad Shah, was stabbed to death in Glasgow last month by another Muslim in an attack that police have described as “religiously prejudiced”.

The Ahmadiyya community says it has detected a hardening of attitudes among orthodox Muslims, with leaflets recently found in a south London mosque calling for the killing of Ahmadiyyas. At another mosque in Berkshire an anti-Ahmadiyya poster advised mosque-users that the sect was “non-Muslim” and “therefore, please don’t have any relationship or any friendship with them”.

Farooq Aftab, vice-president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association, said the community was pleased police were taking “the issue of extremism and radicalisation very seriously”.

Ahmadiyyas face persecution and bloody violence in countries such as Pakistan and Indonesia because they believe that their founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, who died in 1908, was a prophet, a view that is anathema to most Muslims.

A University of Cambridge lecturer,Timothy Winter – who is also known as Sheikh Abdul-Hakim Murad – was accused of exhibiting bigotry after rejecting an invitation by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Students Association to speak on Islamic theology at an inter-faith meeting in 2013. He replied: “Please do not bother me with this. You know your status in the eyes of the Muslim community.”

Aftab said: “His blunt email response gave us the impression he had declined the invitation on the basis that the majority of the Muslim community do not consider Ahmadis to be Muslim. We all felt this reply was highly unethical and lacked academic integrity. At the time, we put the email down to the usual bigotry that Ahmadi Muslims often face and moved on. But it’s clearly in the best interests of our members that we do all we can to highlight, and to safeguard them from, all forms of prejudice.”

Winter, a former pupil of Westminster school, converted to Islam as a teenager and in 2010 was listed among the world’s 50 most influential Muslims, ahead of the presidents of Iran and Egypt at that time, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hosni Mubarak. The Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre, which is based in Jordan, has described Winter as “one of the most well-respected western theologians”.

Winter, 55, said his reply was “somewhat waspish because I regard it as extremely unwise for them to toss their views into the bear garden of undergraduate debate, particularly in the light of certain very generally held views within the Muslim community and the real risk that the event would attract fundamentalist participation”.

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