The article below appeared in “The Guardian” newspaper on 18th April (2016). It is impossible to feel other than a mixture of sadness and shock (perhaps even contempt) because of the failure of the Glasgow Central Mosque and the Muslim Council of Scotland to send representatives to the launch of the anti-extremism campaign organised following the brutal and senseless murder of Asad Shah. Equally, it is impossible to draw any conclusion other than that many people associated with the Glasgow Central Mosque and the Muslim Council of Scotland have sympathy for the Muslim male who murdered Asad Shah and contempt for the anti-extremism campaign that the murder has triggered.
To more fully appreciate the implications of the content of the article below, please examine the posts on this blog entitled “Asad Shah is murdered for ‘disrespecting’ Islam”, “Islamist Extremism and its links with the Deobandis”, “Islamist Extremism” and “Challenging stereotypes of a warlike/extremist/intolerant Islam: the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community”.
Ahmadi Muslims in Scotland have launched an anti-extremism campaign following the death of the Glasgow shopkeeper Asad Shah, despite the failure of other prominent Muslims to attend the event.
Representatives of the Glasgow Central Mosque and the Muslim Council of Scotland were invited to attend the launch alongside other faith groups, but “The Guardian” understands that both sent their apologies at the last minute.
Shah, who lived in the multicultural Shawlands area of Glasgow, was fatally stabbed outside his newsagents on 24th March.
Shah was an Ahmadi, a member of a minority sect of Islam that faces persecution and violence in countries such as Pakistan and is treated with open hostility by many orthodox Muslims in the UK because it differs from their belief that Muhammad is the final prophet sent to guide humankind.
The man charged with Shah’s murder is also a Muslim and recently released a statement through his lawyer saying the killing was justified because Shah had “disrespected” Islam.
As part of the United Against Extremism campaign, posters sponsored by the Ahmadi community will be displayed on buses in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee for two weeks.
The event’s organiser, Ahmed Owusu-Konadu, said, “We are undertaking this campaign as part of our stand on the rejection of all forms of extremism and as a message of solidarity with all who have been its victims, including Asad Shah and others in Paris, Turkey, Brussels, Pakistan and Nigeria.”
Abdul Abid, president of the Ahmadiyya community in Scotland, admitted he was disappointed that other Muslim leaders had not attended the launch. Representatives of Glasgow’s Sikh and Jewish communities and the Church of Scotland’s inter-faith group were all present, alongside local politicians, representatives of Police Scotland and Glasgow’s lord provost.
Independent of the murder investigation, Police Scotland is investigating alleged links between the head of religious events at Glasgow Central Mosque and a banned sectarian group in Pakistan. A recent BBC investigation claimed that Sabir Ali was president of Sipah-e-Sahaba, a militant political party that has accepted responsibility for deadly sectarian attacks against Shia and Ahmadiyya Muslims in Pakistan, and was banned by the Home Office in 2001.
Following Shah’s death, Aamer Anwar, one of Scotland’s most outspoken Muslim reformers, helped to broker a unique event where representatives of Sunni, Shia, Ahmadi and Pakistani Christian communities shared a platform for the first time and vowed to stand shoulder to shoulder against extremism.
At the time Anwar said, “A very small minority of the community may think it’s OK to meddle in the cesspit of violent extremist politics in Pakistan, but we are united in saying that we do not want to import sectarian violence that has caused so much division and so much bloodshed to our community or to our streets.”
He has since received death threats himself, which are under investigation by the police.
Sorry: no prizes for knowing from whom death threats against Aamer Anwar derive.