As the world marks the 10th anniversary of 9/11, a leading Muslim group is taking the issue of the rise of religious extremism to the European Parliament with a stark warning that current measures are insufficient.
The debate on September 20 entitled ‘Murder in the Name of God’ focuses on the ideology that is feeding religious extremism and violence overseas as well as breeding intolerance and extremism in Europe. The attacks on Western targets are only the tip of the iceberg but have been the focus of the bulk of counter terror measures over the past 10 years.
The debate is being hosted by Dr Tannock and organised in conjunction with the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and the South Asia Democratic Forum. It will take place on Tuesday 20 September at 17.00 in room PHS 3C50 of the European Parliament.
The underlying issue of religious extremism is impacting upon the lives of millions of minorities – including Muslims and Christians – whose plight is often dismissed as ‘sectarian’, or worse still as ‘domestic’ and sometimes rarely even makes the national, let alone international, headlines.
Ten years after the 9/11 attacks in the US, the danger posed by religious extremism to the democratic values of European Union countries remains acute, Dr Tannock will warn in his speech at the meeting.
Dr Tannock also drew attention to the EU’s role highlighting religious extremism and persecution outside the EU.
He drew attention, as an example, to the intimidation and violence regularly suffered by Ahmadiyya Muslims in Pakistan, where the authorities, according to national legislation, consider Ahmadiyyas to be apostates. This leaves them vulnerable to violence and intimidation from some extremist elements.
Pakistan sadly retains a number of highly discriminatory laws, the practical effect of which is to isolate and ostracize religious minorities – not only Ahmadiyyas but Baha’is and Christians too.
Dr Charles Tannock MEP said:
The ideology that has spawned violent extremism and reactive violent extremism has its roots in a distorted interpretation of religion – be it Islam, Christianity or any other faith.
Sofia Lemmetyinen, Christian Solidarity Worldwide said:
"Religiously motivated violence or extremism is a global and transnational challenge, threatening principles of pluralism, fundamental freedoms and the rights of minorities. States have a responsibility to address extremism by bringing perpetrators to justice, by compensating victims of such violence and by supporting initiatives for meaningful communal dialogue. We need long-term commitment at both national and international levels, and a willingness to understand underlying root causes and sociopolitical and economic grievances that potentially nurture extremist mindsets."
Rafiq Hayat, National President Ahmadiyya Muslim Community UK said:
We have witnessed the growth of this cancer of terror by the targeting of our community- from small scale boycotts to gun and grenade attacks on our mosques in Pakistan, and in mob violence in Indonesia.
It is a folly for the West to think terrorists will stop at simply targeting one community- this is only the thin end of the wedge. The ideology is already spreading to Europe via the internet and satellite and more needs to be done to put an end to this hatred that breeds extremism.
We are calling of parliamentarians to assess human rights abuses and attacks on minorities as part and parcel of a global terror problem. It does not take a leap of faith to imagine a killer in Pakistan can also be a killer in Paris. It is only a matter of geography and time.
Dr Charles Tannock MEP, Member of Human Rights Committee, Foreign Affairs Committee and Vice-President of the EP delegation to NATO Parliamentary Assembly
Dr John Bew, Co-Director, International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation
Shehrbano Taseer, Journalist and daughter of the late Salmaan Taseer the Governor of Punjab (Pakistan) who was assassinated by religious extremists
Sofia Lemmetyinen, EU Liaison Officer for Christian Solidarity Worldwide