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Inspire is shocked and disappointed that some British imams, Muslim groups and individuals in our country have expressed their support and paid tribute to Mumtaz Qadri following his execution* yesterday in Pakistan, by declaring him to be a “martyr” who defended the honour of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him)

Mumtaz Qadri assassinated Punjab Governor Salman Taseer in January 2011 for his stance against Pakistan’s blasphemy laws and his robust defence of Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman who is currently on death row for allegedly insulting the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). 

Governor Taseer pointed out in November 2010 in an interview with CNN that the blasphemy law is not a religious law but a political tool implemented in 1979 when he stated: 

“The blasphemy law is not a God-made law. It’s a man-made law. It was made by General Ziaul Haq and the portion about giving a death sentence was put in by Nawaz Sharif. So it’s a law which gives an excuse to extremists and reactionaries to target weak people and minorities.” 

Also in 2010, during an interview with Newsline Governor Taseer made the following statement:

 “The thing I find disturbing is that if you examine the cases of the hundreds tried under this law, you have to ask how many of them are well-to-do? Why is it that only the poor and defenceless are targeted? How come over 50 per cent of them are Christians when they form less than 2 per cent of the country’s population. This points clearly to the fact that the law is misused to target minorities.” 

Such remarks angered Qadri enough to murder Governor Taseer in cold blood. Yet today in Pakistan thousands of supporters cheered and threw flowers at the casket of Mumtaz Qadri. Here in the UK since yesterday, a number of imams, Muslim groups and individuals have praised and defended Qadri’s act of murder.
 

We believe there is absolutely no justification – whether religious, moral or ethical – for supporting individuals like Qadri, least of all from an Islamic perspective. Qadri’s supporters have argued that he honoured the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) by murdering Taseer when in fact Qadri and his supporters have tainted the name of the Prophet and dishonoured his teachings by murdering a man in cold blood who showed solidarity with minority communities, as did the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).  As Governor Taseer rightly pointed out: “Islam calls on us to protect minorities, the weak and the vulnerable. 

This Islamic position was recently re-emphasised at the historic Marrakesh Declaration which was attended by Muslim theologians from 120 countries in February 2016 and can be read here

We at Inspire believe that we must stand for equality, human rights and the rule of law. We also recognise we must challenge those who seek to bring our faith into disrepute by justifying violence and death in the Prophet’s name.

1st March 2016

*Inspire do not support the death penalty

 

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Earlier this week, Inspire took part in the Marrakesh Declaration, a conference which sought to emphasise the equality and protection of religious minorities across the world.

The conference was held on the 25th-27th January and brought together 300 religious scholars from many Muslim majority countries.  Scholars also included leading figures from the Jewish, Christian, Shia and Yazidi representatives. Activists, government ministers and other groups also attended. The conference was held in Morocco, to highlight the long and exemplary history of centuries of coexistence between Muslims, Jews and Christians.

Inspire passionately believe in the notion of citizenship, equality and human rights, regardless of one’s religion, race, sexuality or gender.  We have always been determined to challenge discrimination whether within Muslim communities or in wider society, which denigrate minority and dissenting voices and which can lead to hate, intolerance and in some cases violence.  We have for example worked and engaged with Shia, Ahmadiyya and LGBT Muslims who have often faced discrimination by other Muslims.

At a time when minorities are questioned to the point of survival and extremist groups have engulfed Muslim discourse with hatred, it is of utmost importance to stand together for the sake of freedom, peace and justice. The summit, hosted by King Muhammad VI of Morocco, sought to address this by taking a step further and looking at the issue from within the tradition of Islam.  Highlighting the Medina Charter established by the Prophet Muhammad from over 1400 years ago as proof of Islam’s belief in equal citizenship, the charter was based on 11 principles which included justice, compassion, mercy, wisdom, human dignity, reconciliation and human fraternity and mutual recognition.  Examples from Muslim history included Morocco and Turkey where for example the Ottomans 1856 Royal Decree of Reformers abolished the Dhimmi status which discriminated against other faith minorities and established equal citizenship instead, where all had the right to vote, to be elected and to be employed in all government positions.

The call for Muslim countries to strive for a society based on citizenship was exemplified in the words of Sheikh Abdallah Bin Bayyah, a leading Muslim jurist who encouraged Muslim scholars and states to build a human rights culture and to observe international treaties like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in order to protect the rights of all.

Sheikh Bin Bayyah explained that a growing concern among the ulamah – or religious scholars – about the global persecution of minorities had led to the four-year planning of this ground breaking conference.

Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations, also delivered his remarks to the summit, stating, “Religion should be a bridge between people, not a wedge.”

Inspire believes this is one crucial step in the right direction in addressing the prevalent threat of extremist ideas which have fractured our values and cost us dearly. We believe that human rights of all minorities should actively be championed by Muslim scholars and respect for human diversity as it is a pressing priority.  And we hope to see women included as a central part of this process, lending their voices to the protection of religious minorities.

You can read more about the Marrakech Declaration here: http://marrakeshdeclaration.org/.

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