The head of Britain’s largest police force has sent out a warning to those looking to target members of the UK’s Ahmadiyya Muslim community – long persecuted in their spiritual home of Pakistan – following the murder of a popular Ahmadi shopkeeper in Glasgow last month.
Bernard Hogan-Howe, head of the Metropolitan Police Force, said his force would “robustly” crack down on any individual or organization which “carries out threatens violence” against Britain’s 30,000-strong Ahmadiyya Muslim community.
His comments come a month after Asad Shah, a British-Pakistani Ahmadi, was stabbed to death outside his off-licence in the Shawlands area of Glasgow.
Mr Shah had been murdered by a fellow British-Pakistani – a taxi driver from Bradford – who claimed that Mr Shah was not a “real Muslim”, a claim used by hardliners in Pakistan, Indonesia and elsewhere, who target Ahmadiyya Muslims because they don’t conform to the majority belief that the Prophet Muhammad is the last prophet of Islam.
Mr Shah’s killing has heightened concerns amongst members of his community that the persecution that they have experienced in Pakistan is extending to the UK.
Those concerns prompted Commissioner Hogan-Howe to visit Britain’s largest Ahmadiyya mosque – the Baitul Futuh in south London on Friday.
The Ahmadiyya community says it has detected a hardening of attitudes among orthodox Muslims, with leaflets recently found in a London mosque calling for the killing of Ahmadiyyas.
At another mosque in Berkshire an anti-Ahmadiyya poster advised mosque-users that the sect was “non-Muslim” and “therefore, please don’t have any relationship or any friendship with them”.