The European Parliament has held its first meeting of the ‘Friends of Ahmadiyya Muslims group’, a group that highlights that the cause of peace is at the heart of the Muslim faith. The meeting discussed ‘A Message of Peace’ and looked at how forces of tolerance and moderation can tackle religious extremism of all forms.
The Ahmadiyya Muslims group promotes a common vision of human rights and freedom of religion for all, and it seeks to promote respect between followers of different faiths. The UK chapter was formed in 1913 and it now has 100 branches. The headquarters of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association UK is the Baitul Futuh Mosque – the largest Mosque in Western Europe.
Dr Charles Tannock, Conservative MEP for London, is the new Chairman of the friendship group. Speaking at today’s inaugural event, he said:
“We, in Europe, believe democracy generally as a rule goes hand in hand with respect for fundamental human rights. But the fact remains that religious extremism and violence represents a clear and present danger to both peace and respect for human rights which ultimately underpins our democratic ideals.
“This religious extremism sadly can also be closely linked to a brand of international terrorism that is a threat precisely because it is not limited by borders or nationality. These hardline islamist jihadi sects do not represent in any way either Islam as a whole, nor the wider Muslim world, but sadly is the one movement today where violent words diffused across the internet and satellite TV can literally lead to violent actions – worldwide. Ahmadiyya know this only too well as their communities have suffered in countries as disparate as Pakistan and Indonesia and from Nigeria to Kirgizstan.
“I have developed over some years good links to the Ahmadiyyah Muslim community in London which I represent. It is a prosperous, courageous and determined community. Its slogan ‘Love for all, hatred for none’, is the welcome antithesis of the hatred and violence perpetrated by a minority of jihadi radicals.
“So what is the message of peace that should come out of this conference? Firstly, the answer to Islamist extremism needs to come from within moderate and reformist Muslim currents such as the Ahmadiyyah Muslims if it is to be credible and lasting. Second, Europe needs to face up to the unprecedented nature of this threat.”