More than 30,000 members of a Muslim sect will pledge allegiance to Britain today
In the UK, members will do so at a three-day annual international convention, called the Jalsa Salana, being held at a tented village near Alton in Hampshire.
This year they are taking a stand against extremism after the terror attacks, and challenging perceptions by showing what Islam really stands for. It is the Muslim version of Glastonbury. We’ve even packed our wellie
“We want to show the true Islam, which means peace, loyalty to your country, being integrated and looking after each other. This is very important in fighting extremism. It is vital to break down barriers.”
The Ahmadiyya Community is known for promoting peace and inter-faith relations.
Last year Ahmadi shopkeeper Asad Shah was killed in Glasgow by Tanveer Ahmed, 32, for “disrespecting Islam” when he wished his customers “Happy Easter”.
The Muslim Council of Britain condemned the attack but claimed Ahmadis are not Muslim.
“This was not helpful,” said Mr Aftab. “If we want to create an inclusive society we need to work together. Only God can decide who is Muslim and who is not.”
He added: “We have not had one instance of extremism so clearly something is working. As Muslims it is our duty to distance ourselves from extremist terrorists.”
Their leader Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad has previously called for mosques to be more open and transparent to tackle extremism.
Ahead of the festival he said: “The only thing the terrorists are achieving is to completely violate the teachings of the Holy Quran and of the Holy Prophet Muhammad.
“They are not practising Islam, rather it seems as though they have invented their own hate-filled and poisonous religion.”