This year marked the tenth anniversary of the terrorist atrocity that changed the world. The coordinated attacks in America that led to the deaths of almost 3,000 people. The effects of 9/11 continue to impact lies a decade on. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Association believes there’s been a rise in religious extremism in Europe since 2001.
Politicians, think tanks, religious leaders and academics came together for a landmark conference at the European Parliament to highlight the threats posed by religious extremism and to seek ways of combating them.
Murder in the Name of God: a policy debate in the European Parliament on the rise of extremism internationally and its impact on European security and cohesion (20th September 2011) was hosted by Dr Charles Tannock MEP and the UK All Party Parliamentary Group for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.
Dr Bew warned of the ‘westernisation’ of Al Qaeda and the use of the internet to spread the extremists’ creed. The battle for second generation Muslim youth in Europe was being won by the extremists, he warned.
Mr Hayat warned of the alarming spread of a narrow and intolerant interpretation of Islam in Pakistan and other countries, which is coming to Europe through media such as satellite television and the internet.
Sofia Lemmetyinen highlighted research that showed that imposing curbs on religious freedom actually created violent religious persecution.
Dr Charles Tannock MEP underlined the threat of Wahhabism with particular reference to some of its literature which was banned in the UK, which targeted Jews and Christians. He also said:
“Some countries do too little either directly or indirectly to stem the growth of extremist thinking, both in their own countries domestically and abroad. Saudi Arabia, via certain Islamic charities, operating from its own soil, for example, is a well known supporter of hard-line Wahhabi ideas both at home and abroad.
“Two weeks ago, I met the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, who complained bitterly about Saudi money being used to build Wahhabi inspired madrassahs in his country which were radicalising Ethiopia’s Muslim minority that have traditionally co-existed peacefully for centuries with the Christian majority.”
The debate looked at some of the root causes of extremism, where it started and what measures the European Parliament could take to tackle it.
More than 350 delegates from 16 countries heard Dr Charles Tannock MEP, Member of Human Rights Committee, Foreign Affairs Committee and Vice-President of the EP delegation to NATO Parliamentary Assembly; Mr Rafiq Hayat, National UK President of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association, Dr John Bew, Co-Director, International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation; and Sofia Lemmetyinen, EU Liaison Officer for Christian Solidarity Worldwide.
“Any notion that Ahmadiyyas as community have been subject to human rights violations in Pakistan is completely devoid of facts.”
The event also featured a special message from His Holiness Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad in which he called for greater tolerance and for the respect of human rights, noting that:
“Polarisation has beset the world, whether it is manifested in the discriminatory laws of Pakistan, Indonesia or Saudi Arabia that are used to target smaller religious groups, or the laws in Western countries that target manifestations of religious observances, such as the use of the hijab in France or the minaret in Switzerland.
“Extremist ideology has an international impact. If the countries do not check such extremism then it will spread.”