London: The Ahmadiyya community in the UK is introducing airport-style security at its many mosques and centres across the country after receiving death threats from other Muslim groups.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community UK (AMC), which represents an estimated 30,000 Ahmadis, launched walk-through metal detectors, identity checks and bag searches to screen visitors and worshippers for knives and firearms recently at the Baitul Futuh mosque in south London.
The minority Islamic sect, which is disowned by some Muslims, has also sought Scotland Yard’s intervention over the death threats to its leader Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, The Sunday Times reports.
Farooq Aftab, a spokesperson for the AMC, told the newspaper that while it was common for Ahmadis to be persecuted in countries such as Pakistan, similar violent and divisive behaviour should not be tolerated in Britain.
“People who don’t think we are Muslims are entitled to their own point of view, but a line must be drawn because violence cannot be justified. We can disagree, but we have a right to freedom of religion,” said Aftab.
“Our community is under attack by extremists but our commitment to peace and love is unshakeable. We appreciate the work of the authorities and they must continue to work diligently for the protection and safety of all citizens,” he added.
Ahmadis, who make up 1 per cent of the UK’s 3 million followers of Islam, are persecuted in some countries because of their religious beliefs.
While a majority of the recent threats against the Ahmadi community in Britain have been sent via social media and text messages, some of the group’s mosques have also been daubed with words such as ‘kaffir’, meaning non-believer or infidel.
“It is, frankly, sickening that some think they can openly harass, intimidate, vandalise and create a sense of fear within minority Muslim communities while shouting out about Islamophobia and the need to challenge it,” said Fiyaz Mughal, director of interfaith organisation Faith Matters.
Fears among the Ahmadi community in Britain have heightened following the murder of Asad Shah, a member of the Ahmadiyya sect who was stabbed to death in Glasgow in March last year by a Sunni Muslim taxi driver from Bradford.