Extremism not exclusive to one religion – Lord Ahmed

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In July 2011, 77 people were murdered and 150 injured in Norway and Anders Breivik identified himself as a Christian crusader.

Lord Ahmed member of British Parliament debated the issue of Islamophobia, extremism and terrorism in the house of Lord. Here is eye-opening transcript:

“My Lords, the Prime Minister’s statement that there is nothing in Islam which justifies acts of terror was a call for unity at a time when many of us felt frightened. The Prime Minister was right: we must respond to senseless violence with all the strength of a united society. When community leaders of all faiths work together to guide young people away from extremism, they strengthen our society. That is the kind of constructive action we need. The spreading of religious prejudice is far from constructive. Islamophobia and any other kind of religious hatred will only divide Britain. Religious hatred and the fear mongering that goes on with it has no place in a civilised country.

First, I want to deal with the myth that terrorism is an Islamic phenomenon. In July 2011, 77 people were murdered and 150 injured in Norway. Acting on the belief that immigrants were undermining the Christian values of his country, Anders Breivik identified himself as a Christian crusader. I do not think that Breivik was a Christian. I do not think that his actions reflect Christianity or that Christianity has something fundamentally wrong with it because he claims to be acting in its name.

The noble Baroness, Lady Uddin, mentioned Pavlo Lapshyn,who stabbed an 82-year-old man, Mohammed Saleem, in Birmingham. Pavlo Lapshyn also planted three bombs outside mosques. Lapshyn cited his desire to stir up racial tension as the motivation for his crimes. Surely this makes it our duty to quash any racial tension that this kind of violence stirs up. The noble Lord mentioned the Buddhist monks who have been attacking the Rohingya communities in Burma, killing thousands of Muslims, and Hindu nationalists have also bombed in India. They do not represent the majority of Hindus or Buddhists. From the reign of Bloody Mary and her burning of hundreds of Protestants to the troubles of Northern Ireland between Protestants and Catholics, our history illustrates that it is ignorance, prejudice and the desire for power—not religion—that fuels violence.

Even so, some will draw comfort from blaming the Muslim community. In an interview in 2009, the noble Lord, Lord Pearson, stated: “Muslims are breeding ten times faster than us”.

Tome, this dehumanising language echoes the anti-Semitic comments made about Jews in the 1920s. When the noble Lord says “ten times faster than us”, what does he mean by “us”? Would he separate British Muslims from the rest of British society? Millions of Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs served in the British Armed Forces across two world wars. British Muslims have also served and died in Afghanistan.

Quotations from the Holy Koran have been used by Geert Wilders and the noble Lord, Lord Pearson, including verse 14 and other verses in Surah 9, and Surah 47, verse 4. I tell noble Lords that those quotations are out of context. They are not even interpreted. I challenge him to recite three words in Arabic and see whether he can do the translation.

The truth is that the right reverend Prelate was right. I could quote 18 examples from the Holy Bible that could be misinterpreted, but I do not want to go down this route. As a politician, I want to remind noble Lords of a quotation:

“I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat. …You ask, what is our policy? I will say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might…You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: it is victory, victory at all costs … victory, however long and hard the road may be”.

That is not Lord Ahmed calling for jihad in the House of Lords or threatening the noble Lord, Lord Pearson, as he claimed in Washington DC on 28 October 2009.

This is our great wartime leader, the Prime Minister Winston Churchill, in the House of Commons on 13 May 1940. It can be read at col. 1502 in Hansard. I do not need to remind your Lordships of the two world wars. There were 16 million deaths in the First World War and 60 million in the Second World War. I need not mention the colonial wars. Everywhere you dig into European colonialism in Afro-Asia there are bodies—lots of bodies—as well as between 1916 and 1930 in Tsarist and Soviet Russia. Lives were also lost during the fight for Algerian independence. I could go on. None of them were Muslims.

I know that my time is up. All I want to say is that the Koran teaches me: do not argue with the people of earlier scripture. Even if they do, tell them that you believe in the same God as they do.” End

 

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