'Kill Ahmadis' leaflets found in UK mosque

By Sajid Iqbal and Noel Titheradge
BBC News

  • Published
Stockwell Green mosque
Image caption,
Stockwell Green mosque in south London has previously been linked to a group promoting the persecution of an Islamic sect

Leaflets calling for the killing of a sect of Muslims have been found in a south London mosque.

Piles of the flyers, which say Ahmadis should face death if they refuse to convert to mainstream Islam, were displayed in Stockwell Green mosque.

The leaflet was authored by an ex-head of Khatme Nabuwwat, a group which lists the mosque as its "overseas office".

A mosque trustee said he had never seen the leaflets before and suggested they were fakes or left there maliciously.

Minority communities in Pakistan have become targets of sectarian violence, and some fear that could spread to the UK, encouraged by organisations like the Islamic missionary group Khatme Nabuwwat, and others.

Khatme Nabuwwat believes Ahmadis are apostates, commonly defined as people who have abandoned their religion.

Those who refuse to convert to mainstream Islam within three days should face a "capital sentence" - or death penalty, according to the leaflets.

The constitution of Pakistan bans members of the sect from referring to themselves as Muslims.

Image caption,
Leaflets found in the mosque said Ahmadis, derogatively known as Qadianis, should be killled if they refuse to convert to mainstream Islam

The leaflets, authored by Yusuf Ludhianvi and written in English, were found arranged in piles on a desk next to a shoe-rack, the usual place to display literature in mosques.

Documents from the Charity Commission show Khatme Nabuwwat lists Stockwell mosque in south London as its office, the BBC has also learned.

Four trustees of the charity listed in the documents manage the mosque, while two of the current owners of the mosque run centres affiliated to that group elsewhere in the UK.

The mosque is also listed as an "overseas office" on the group's website for Khatme Nabuwwat.

'Independent organisation'

Stockwell Green mosque was first accused of helping to promote acts of terror and hate in Pakistan in 2011.

At the time, mosque trustee Toaha Qureshi issued a vehement denial, saying the mosque's name had been "falsely used" on a website listed on hate literature advocating the murder of Ahmadis.

He said: "We are very angry and furious about that. We do not have any linkage with this organisation that is promoting hate."

Asked about this latest discovery of leaflets and alleged links between the mosque and Khatme Nabuwwat, Mr Qureshi said: "There is a link that we only need when we need some guidance or literature on that particular issue, then we seek advice from them.

"We have not published any pamphlet of that kind. This is nothing to do with our mosque. Someone might have put it there and taken from there with malicious intentions," he added.

Who are the Ahmadis?

  • A minority Islamic sect founded in 1889, Ahmadis believe their own founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, who died in 1908, was a prophet
  • This is anathema to most Muslims who believe the last prophet was Muhammad, who died in 632
  • Most Ahmadi followers live in the Indian subcontinent
  • Ahmadis have been the subject of sectarian attacks and persecution in Pakistan and elsewhere
  • In 1974 the Pakistani government declared the sect non-Muslim

Referring to sectarian attacks on Ahmadis in Pakistan, he added: "Whatever happened in Pakistan, that has got nothing to do with me or with the Stockwell mosque.

"What we are saying is Stockwell mosque is an independent organisation. It does not take a dictation by anybody else."

Khatme Nabuwwat has never been implicated in an attack but has been criticised for encouraging violence towards members of the sect.

"Khatme Nabuwwat do not inflict violence themselves, but they provide an enabling environment for a number of actors to do so," said Saroop Ijaz from Human Rights Watch.

"There are enough violent groups in Pakistan, enough radical population in Pakistan, that if accusation is made enough times and loudly enough - that is murder. Khatme Nabuwwat do this with the very clear desire of leading to that outcome."

'Enabling environment'

Dr James Caron, from the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, said: "Khatme Nabuwwat is a one-issue outfit and that one issue is anti-Ahmadi sentiment.

"However, anti-Ahmadi sentiment is much larger than the Khatme Nabuwwat movement."

Image caption,
Lutfur Rehman says he was placed on a hitlist in Pakistan because he is Ahmadi

Lutfur Rehman, an Ahmadi living in the UK, fears that the violence seen in Pakistan against minorities such as his could be spreading to the UK, encouraged by groups such as Khatme Nabuwwat.

Find out more

Episode two of The Deobandis will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 at 09:00 BST on Tuesday 12 April.

"That hate is spreading in the UK. We have seen incidents here and in different areas.

"There have been leaflets distributed in shops, certain hotels have openly announced they will not serve Ahmadis, different clerics inciting in their Friday sermons against Ahmadis."

He was caught up in the 2010 attack on an Ahmadi mosque while on business in the Pakistani city of Lahore when gunmen fired and threw grenades indiscriminately, killing 93 people.

"The guy sitting next to me - I can never forget him", he said. "He was wearing all white dress and it went red. There was another guy sitting with his little daughter, and he was trying to cover his daughter to save her and he was shot."

He added: "It's lucky that that kind of incident that happened in Lahore hasn't happened here yet but if it carries on like this, it's not very far."

'False prophet'

This all comes after the killing of Ahmadi shopkeeper Asad Shah, in Glasgow last month, which police claimed was "religiously prejudiced".

Tanveer Ahmed, 32, from Bradford, who is accused of his murder, said he killed Mr Shah because he disrespected Islam and falsely claimed to be a prophet.

While there is no suggestion Khatme Nabuwwat was involved in the killing, two videos on a video-hosting channel with the same name as the group described Mr Shah as a "false prophet" in 2014.

Mr Ahmed has made no plea, and is remanded in custody until his next court appearance.