The situation of extremism in Pakistan is at a critical point, but is this the right forum for a policy debate on this multi-dimensional issue?
Meeting of the PG on 18th May, 2011
We live in a democracy with a lot of robust Muslim opinions which are on the increase as Muslim population and engagement grows. The political and religious history of this country has never been a retirement home tea party, and Muslim-related issues are going to be controversial and newsworthy.
As such, parliament and the media should either ignore propaganda attempts or investigate them, or at least allow Muslims to present their take on it.
On the anniversary of the atrocity in Lahore last year (a minor blip in the general terrorism in Pakistan), we hope this year will be a happy year for the Ahmadiyya and we wish them well, but not at the expense of unfounded damage to the reputation and identity of British Muslims.
The PG should discuss issues related to its subject, and if needs to have a wider policy debate about extremism and radicalisation, a genuine concern, it should do so in the right context and audience. Otherwise, echoing anti-Muslim propaganda fosters alienation of Muslims from the political system of the country.
Note: My request to attend the event was sent before it was publicised but was refused by the Ahmadiyya, as expected, as there was a ‘waiting list’.
Backgrounder: Last Meeting of the PG
Unfortunately, the last meeting called by the Honourable Siobhain McDonagh, the precursor to this PG (in 2010) was meant to discuss the Lahore attacks, but was used to bounce half-baked local media stories off the walls of Parliament and then into full-fledged stories in the mainstream media.
Those sensational stories picked up just in time from the Wimbledon Guardian and read out at the last meeting turned out be nothing, barring an objectionable guest on a TV channel, for which the channel apologised profusely. Since then, it has gone ignored that everything in the famed ‘dossier’ was false: there was no ‘murder leaflet’ in Bentall Centre where the girl had reported that police had ‘arrested’ the leaflet person with a beard. The tenuous association between a conference and an illegal sacking was the opinion of the victim and not a decision of the tribunal.
When the CPS refused proceedings under the 2006 Religious and Racial Hatred Act, there was no legal review as the Ahmadiyya had vocally promised, and as Lord Avebury had declared that the law was flawed and needed to be strengthened. There were no further reports by the media after the amicable meeting of the Ahmadiyya with the Wandsworth Police Commissioner and Muslim representatives. We had predicted that the Ahmadiyya would never issue a joint press release in order to keep the cult-like association in the mind of their followers. And the Wimbledon Guardian lost interest in something for which it had doggedly pursued the Honourable Sadiq Khan.
In short, local stories were catapulted into international incidents and milked for full political mileage by the Ahmadiyya with the inadvertent help of media and Parliament — all with no concrete follow-up from the Government or the media.