A PEACE conference in Bradford heard today that the religious hate killing of a shopkeeper in Glasgow must be a wake up call for people to stand up and speak out against intolerance and persecution.About 200 people were at the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association Bradford’s annual peace conference where religious and community leaders all called for more talk and more action to bring an end to injustice and conflict.
Dr Mohammed Iqbal, Bradford North President of the Ahmadiyya Association, spoke of his sadness that the conference had got intertwined with the death of Ahmadi Muslim Asad Shah on March 24 and that the man held in custody for the killing was from Bradford.Tanveer Ahmed, 32, of the Toller area of the city, has been charged with Mr Shah’s murder and is expected to appear at a High Court at a later date.
Ahmed issued a statement through his solicitor last week in which he said he had committed the killing because shopkeeper Asad Shah claimed to be a Prophet.He denied the incident had anything to do with Christianity or any other religion but Dr Iqbal warned the conference he believed Mr Shah’s death showed “things were slipping” in the UK and that there were certain people wanting to try to make discord in society.
“We need to wake up. I hope the leaders in our city will do more than give us sympathy to make sure we don’t have religious intolerance. I would ask people in Bradford to make sure we don’t slip in to that,” he said The Bishop of Bradford, the Right Reverend Toby Howarth said the conference had been overshadowed by Mr Shah’s death and that the shadow had also been brought over Bradford.
“We can’t turn our backs on the kind of language being used which creates a context for people to be murdered on our streets,” he said.”We do need to wake up.”
Bradford East Labour MP Imran Hussain MP said he did not want to give people whose message is one of hate and fear the satisfaction of talking about them. Instead he said what made Bradford such a great city was all its diverse communities and added: “Bradford is resilient.”Chief Superintendent Simon Atkin, the commander of Bradford District Police, told the conference: “It’s important that people realise there is more in Bradford that draws us together than drags us us a part.”
Maulana Ataul Mujeeb Rashed, of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association, who gave the key address, said people had to understand that Islam was all about peace.Calling for people to unite against extremism, he said: “A true Muslim can not be a terrorist.”Naz Shah, Labour MP for Bradford West, challenged people to talk openly about divides and intolerance in society in a bid to find more peace and harmony and said she would be having those same conversations at the House of Commons.
“This challenge goes beyond this room and beyond Bradford,” she said.