Britain should welcome more refugees from a community of Muslims who have fled “abhorrent” abuse in Pakistan, a former cabinet minister has said.
Sir Ed Davey called on the Home Office to improve training to ensure officials better understand why Ahmadiyya Muslims should have asylum applications approved.
He added the United Nations’ genocide prevention team should investigate abuse against the community in Pakistan.
Labour MP Hugh Gaffney (Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill) also raised the case of Glasgow shopkeeper Asad Shah, who was murdered in a brutal attack in 2016 for being an Ahmadiyya.
Mr Shah was stabbed to death by Sunni Muslim Tanveer Ahmed who claimed he had “disrespected the messenger of Islam, the Prophet Muhammad”.
Mr Gaffney said: “His death shows we have much to do to raise awareness and increase support for that minority group. He was a brilliant man loved by everybody in his community.”
Sir Ed, speaking in the same Commons debate, said police and local authorities need to be “very strong” in preventing and dealing with hatred towards Ahmadiyya Muslims.
He added: “I also think of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Pakistani people who have fled from Pakistan who are refugees in refugee camps around the world, and I do not believe we’re taking enough of them into this country.
“I know it’s a Home Office issue but I’d ask (Foreign Office minister Mark Field) if he could confirm he will go to the Home Office and say can this country take more Ahmadiyya Muslims who are sitting in refugee camps, forgotten, or let’s not forget them.
“If we’re going to take anything from this debate, let’s take some small steps that are under our control and let’s revisit the country guidance about how Home Office officials are trained to consider asylum applications from Ahmadiyya Muslims in Pakistan.
“Let’s make sure that is properly dealt with so people understand what Ahmadiyya Muslims are having to put up with in Pakistan.”
Sir Ed earlier said of the abuse aimed at the community: “This persecution, yes it is state permitted but it is actually ubiquitous in Pakistani society and it is that that I find most frightening.”
He went on to tell MPs that what was happening to the Ahmadiyya Muslims “rang awful bells” with what happened to the Jewish populations of Europe under Nazism.
He said: “While we should not throw away that word too freely I do think maybe the UN Office for Genocide Prevention needs to do a study.”
Responding to the debate on behalf of the Government, Foreign Office Minister Mark Field told MPs that he would raise the issue of Ahmadiyya persecution “to a greater degree” with the Pakistani government.
He said: “I do accept that perhaps we do need to do a little more, indeed publicly as well.”
Mr Field went on to say that the treatment of the Ahmadiyya in Pakistan was “unacceptable” and pledged to “continue to state that” to Pakistani officials and representatives.