How effective would a panel of racists be at investigating racism? What of EDL activists commissioned to investigate Islamophobia in the UK? Utterly preposterous, right? Well, The Muslim Council of Britain recently formed an investigative panel to look into the role of one of its affiliates in inciting violence against Ahmadi Muslims in the UK. And guess who is on the panel? Members with known ties to the affiliate under scrutiny.
News of the sectarian killing of popular Ahmadi Muslim shopkeeper Mr. Asad Shah has shocked the UK. Mr. Tanveer Ahmad -a Sunni Muslim of Pakistani origin - claimed he committed the act because Asad had blasphemed against Islam. Following the murder, an extremist Sunni group, Almi Majlis Tahaffuz Khatme Nubuwat (AMTKN) (usually shortened to Khatme Nabuwat) sent out a message congratulating all Muslims. Just a few days later, 'Kill Ahmadis' pamphlets were found at the group's Stockwell Mosque. Similar pamphlets calling for the killing of Ahmadi Muslims were distributed in universities and markets across London. Extremist clerics in other Mosques who share Khatme Nabuwat's anti-Ahmadi views also took to the pulpit to call on fellow Sunnis to sever all ties with the Ahmadi Muslims. Meanwhile, the Muslim Council of Britain - which has long considered the Khatme Nabuwat a close affiliate - clarified that they would not identify Mr. Shah as Muslim.
The Khatme Nabuwat group was born in Pakistan and has frequently been implicated in violence against Ahmadi Muslims. The group routinely carries out protests, calling on authorities to further tighten the noose around the Ahmadis living in Muslim countries. That this bigotry is being imported to the UK has caused alarm among social rights activists and the civil society at large. The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has come under increasing pressure to clarify their ties with the hate group. To respond to the growing criticism, the MCB was forced to announce an investigative panel tasked to look into the Khatme Nabuwat group. The fact that they feel the need to appoint a panel even after such brazen calls for murder across the UK is incomprehensible.
And to make MCB's intent more suspect, at least two members on the panel have now been found to have strong ties to the hate group.
Mr. Allama Shahid Raza Naeemi, a prominent cleric on the panel investigating anti-Ahmadi hate, has attended Khatme Nabuwat conferences in the past and spewed the same hate. In one such speech, he forbade Muslims to have any social interaction with the Ahmadi Muslims, referring to them repeatedly by the pejorative 'qadiani.' He said:
"This is a very alarming situation that we do not realize the gravity... We are not realizing how dangerous it is to meet, sit with and intermix with the qadianis. Some of you might say: "What happens with meeting someone for five minutes... Mr. Naeemi, you seem to be an extremist. Are they not human beings? What is wrong with sitting with them?"... I can assure you I am no extremist... and that my views are very moderate. But you must remember that having any sort of ties with them (Ahmadis) is far worse than being addicted to drugs and alcohol... I am humbly requesting you, do not meet them or your faith would suffer from an incurable cancer... Leave this place with the promise that not only will you sever all ties with the 'qadianis,' but also with anyone who sympathizes with them."
And more recently, when Mr. Naeemi was asked about his views on those who chose to leave Islam, he said:
"Sharia law says that if a Muslim changes their religion it is treason and the punishment for treason is death."
It is worth noting that the 'kill Ahmadis' pamphlets found at the Stockwell Mosque said the exact same thing - that Ahmadis were apostates and therefore were worthy of death. How then is Mr. Naeemi investigating the Khatme Nabuwat group any different from asking the Khatme Nabuwat group to investigate itself? They are absolutely on the same page on their views on Ahmadi Muslims. It is also utterly inconceivable that a person like Mr. Naeemi is honored with an OBE for 'interfaith work.' Is there any research that goes into awarding these honorary titles?
Mr. Maulana Yunus Dhudwala - another panelist on the MCB's investigative team -is also staunchly anti-Ahmadi. In a recent post on Facebook, Mr. Dhudwala used the same pejoratives for the Ahmadi Muslims while describing the "deceptions" of the Ahmadis. Imagine assigning someone who refers to Blacks with the "N" word - and considers them a deceptive people based on their group identity - to investigate charges of racism. It would be utterly farcical.
By appointing clerics who share the Khatme Nabuwat group's anti-Ahmadi views to investigate their bigotry, the MCB has made it clear again that it is not serious in dealing with the rise of anti-Ahmadi hatred by a section of British Muslim clergy. As the body that advises the government on issues pertaining to British Muslim civil life, this is extremely disturbing and a cause of serious concern. The government should investigate the relationship between Khatme Nabuwwat and the MCB independently. It should make it clear that it will not allow Britain to succumb to the sectarianism and extremism that has taken Pakistan hostage.