The Prime Minister's renewed focus on tackling the root causes of extremism is to be welcomed. However, a distinction has to be drawn between Islam and terrorism. There is NO link between Islam and terrorism. The teachings of the Holy Quran are very clear. However, it is correct to say there is a link between terrorism and certain Muslims. It is a very simple but significant distinction and the Government and leaders should acknowledge this. Many query what is Islam and whose version do we accept. The answer is quite simple. When we are talking about Islam then it is the Holy Quran we need to refer to as that encompasses what Islam is. The Holy Quran unequivocally forbids all forms of terrorism or extremism.
In general the Prime Minister has made some positive comments. From the outset the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has said that the government needs to consider the risk of extremism or radicalisation very seriously. In January, in his interview with LBC, the Caliph of Islam, His Holiness, Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad said that Mosques should be monitored and so if the Government is being more vigilant in its new campaign then that is good.
We all should support the Government where it takes just measures to try and stop spread of terrorism e.g. giving parents powers to apply for child's passport to be suspended or where the Government is seeking to stop extremists being given a platform in universities, etc.
His Holiness also made the point previously that broadcasters / media should seek to give a platform to non-extremist and moderate Muslim and faith leaders. Thus, this element of the Prime Minister's speech is good and positive. Lets hope that broadcasters listen.
A very important and fundamental issue is mutual respect. Government should encourage and ensure that all religions are treated with respect. We should seek to foster an environment where people do not speak against others or their beliefs. It is of course ok to question a belief or to seek dialogue to further understanding but it is wrong to just needlessly criticise or abuse the beliefs of others.
The Prime Minister spoke about 'conspiracy theories' such as 9/11 being a Jewish conspiracy and that such views must be rejected and if not then it is a sign of growing extremism. However, there are non-Muslims and people without faith who have held similar beliefs and so this is not a question of extremism but rather a question of personal views and opinions. These are not signs of radicalisation. There is a fine line, which the Government should respect between genuine warning signs and an infringement on personal beliefs. In this country and in the West they always speak of the importance of freedom of expression and free speech so then it is wrong to brand genuinely held and peaceful beliefs as extremist. The Government also has a responsibility to ensure that in its drive to tackle extremism it provides space for discussion and views that have no link with extremism.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community practices the true Islam based on the Holy Quran and teachings of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). Thus, our history proves that we are peaceful and loyal citizens of the country.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community also believes that there should be a pledge of loyalty in school assemblies in which children repeat a pledge of loyalty to their nation. This is a means of ingraining loyalty across the board from childhood.
With regards to the concept of Caliphate there is nothing wrong with the concept of Caliphate as long as it is true and peaceful Caliphate. Ahmadi Muslims have been living under a peaceful Caliphate for more than 100 years which is guiding them towards peace and harmony but perhaps this is a discussion for another day.
In short, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community supports the Government in its genuine efforts to curb extremism and we pray that their efforts are successful so that the evil of extremism and terrorism is finished and so that all people of all faiths and beliefs can live together in peace and harmony.