AMA UK, External Affairs
A debate on a motion on the “Persecution of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community” was held in the British Parliament on Thursday 24 May in the Main Chamber. The debate was nominated by the Backbench Business Committee and was led by Siobhain McDonagh MP.
The objective behind this was to raise awareness and make countries like the United Kingdom realise that such a breach of human rights must be addressed by the nations that are otherwise ready to intervene in such situations.
The information made available for the parliamentarians by the House of Commons was as follows:
Ahmadiyya is a religious sect that originated in India in the 19th century. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the founder, claimed to be the Mahdi, the Muslim equivalent of the Messiah. The movement of his followers grew to several million people, and is now represented in many countries, particularly in South Asia, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Gambia, Tanzania and Indonesia. Several countries have blasphemy laws that discriminate against Ahmadis; some of these laws have been described as a legacy of Empire.
The world’s largest Ahmadi community is in Pakistan, with about 4 million adherents. The Pakistani constitution singles out Ahmadis, declaring that they are not Muslims, and the Penal Code bans them from describing themselves as such. According to Amnesty International, a general crackdown on freedom of expression is intensifying in Pakistan and the mood of hostility against Ahmadis has led to scenes such as those in May 2018, when neighbouring villagers destroyed the houses of 23 Ahmadis, who had to be evacuated to another town.
Violent jihadi groups such as Laskhar-e-Jhangvi are accused of targeted assassinations of Ahmadis in Pakistan. The worst attack to date was in 2010, when 86 worshippers were killed during an assault on two Ahmadi mosques in Lahore.
In December 2017, 50 Ahmadis were tried on charges related to their religion. Sentences ranged from fines to five years in prison.
Members of the large Ahmadi community in Indonesia have found it difficult to get identity documents because the documents must show an authorised religion and Ahmadiyya is not one of them. There have been killings of Ahmadis by Islamic militants.
In 2016 a man killed an Ahmadi shopkeeper from Glasgow for, the killer claimed, “disrespecting Islam”. He was jailed for murder.
Siobhain McDonagh MP opened the debate at 12:43pm by describing the backdrop against which this debate was being held and also highlighting the fact that “the House has a duty and a responsibility to address”.
Of the many Members of Parliament present, many chose to participate in the discussion and contributed to it by commending the great works carried out by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat, not only in their constituencies but all around the world. Those that contributed included Kate Green MP for Stretford and Urmston), Henry Smith MP for Crawley, Nic Dakin MP for Scunthorpe, Seema Malhotra MP for Feltham and Heston, Mr Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi MP for Slough, Tom Brake MP for Carshalton and Wallington, Mr Paul Sweeney MP for Glasgow North East, Hugh Gaffney MP for Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill
To read the transcript of the debate in full, visit hansard.parliament.uk and search Ahmadiyya.