Muslim schoolchildren should be asked to make a regular pledge of allegiance to the British flag, the Ahmadiyya group has suggested.
According to the Telegraph, more than 30,000 Ahmadis are gathering this weekend at a farm in rural Hampshire in the wake of the murder of the Glasgow shopkeeper Asad Shah, who was killed by a Sunni Muslim for allegedly disrespecting the Prophet. His attacker, Tanveer Ahmed, from Bradford, was sentenced to 27 years’ imprisonment on Tuesday.
The three-day event in Hampshire opened with Friday prayers followed by a symbolic Union Flag-raising ceremony.
Khalil Yousuf, a spokesman for the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, said: “Not only should we raise the flag, but everybody in the Muslim community should have to pledge loyalty to Britain in schools. There is no conflict between being a Muslim and a Briton.”
He added that the flag raising was “not a symbolic gesture”, but “part of our faith”.
The group, which numbers up to 80 million people nationwide, is considered to be outside the fold of Islam according to mainstream Muslim scholars because they reject the status of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) as the seal of the Prophets. Ahmadis accept Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, a 19th century spiritual reformer from India, as the Messiah awaited by all major religions.
However, many say the group has long suffered persecution for their beliefs, especially in Pakistan.
“The raising of the flag is beautiful. We do this as opposed to so-called Muslims who are planning to attack the country that they live in”Ahmed Owusu-Konadu, a spokesman for the Ahmadi community in Glasgow said.
The Hampshire event paid tribute to Britain for the freedom it gives its citizens and saw delegates pledge loyalty to their nation as a fundamental part of their faith.
The Worldwide Head – or Caliph – of the Ahmadiyya community, Mirza Masroor Ahmad, led the three-day convention with a rallying call to members to serve the country they live in and to work for peace at every level of society.
Rafiq Hayat, President Ahmadiyya Community UK said: “The 30,000 plus people from over 90 countries gathering at the convention come in the spirit of fraternity – and to give thanks for the security and freedom they have found in Britain.
“Many have fled persecution in other countries and together, they will re-affirm their pledge to follow the true teachings of Islam – that are teachings of peace – and to counter all forms of extremism and intolerance. We have much to be grateful for in Britain which has allowed our community to prosper and contribute to British life for more than 100 years. We count ourselves proud to call ourselves British Ahmadi Muslims.”