The small number of Muslims who attended an “interfaith” Mass in France, after an Islamist beheaded a Catholic priest in Normandy, were from a moderate but persecuted sect who are considered “apostates” in mainstream Islamic thought.
“We are very moved by the presence of our Muslim friends and I believe it is a courageous act that they did by coming to us,” Dominique Lebrun, the archbishop of Rouen, said after the Mass in Rouen, a few miles from the church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray where an Islamist terrorist slit the throat of an 85-year-old priest.
Just 100 of France’s 5 million Muslims made it to the event, many of which were Ahmadi – a tiny minority sect who are officially classed as “non-Muslims” in their native Pakistan and by the Muslim Council of Britain. Such a charge is often associated with the death sentence in Islam.
They face cruel social and often violent persecution wherever they reside in the world (including in the UK, where posters calling for their murder have been reported) and are consequently often behind initiatives to promote tolerance and peace within the wider Muslim community.
The Ahmadi group at the mass unfurled a banner reading, “Love for all. Hate for none” – an outreach slogan also used by an Ahmadi group in Scotland when an Ahmadi shopkeeper was hacked to death by a Sunni Muslim after he praised his “beloved Christian nation”.
Almost the entire mainstream media – the BBC, the Huffington Post and the Independentincluded – failed to mention the Ahmadi presence at the event, despite reporting the kind words on their banner; ironically, therefore, implicitly attributing it to their persecutors.
The BBC’s misleading headline was: “Muslims across France have attended Catholic mass in a gesture of solidarity”. Similarly, the Huffington Post ran: “Muslims Attend Catholic Mass Across France In Powerful Show Of Unity”.
One of the non-Ahmadi Muslims at the event was Tareq Oubrou – a one-time Muslim Brotherhood radical who has, over the past decade, switched to advocating a “liberal” and Western version of Islam that is of “low visibility”.
Consequently, Mr. Oubrou has also faced death threats and persecution. He has become a major target for Islamic State, which has urged him to be “killed without hesitation.”