Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has called on the country’s government to stand ‘shoulder-to-shoulder’ with each other, after visiting a Glasgow Ahmadiyya mosque earlier this week.
Ms Sturgeon visited the place of worship on Monday 5th December, in the city’s Kelvingrove area, where she met members of the congregation, before removing her shoes and visiting a ‘female only’ area.
The mosque is the same one which was frequented by former Glasgow shopkeeper, Asad Shah, who was killed by a man from Bradford after he allegedly claimed to be a ‘prophet’.
Speaking after the meeting, Ms Sturgeon said: “The Scottish Government wants to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and promote the message that Scotland as a country welcomes diversity.
“We’ve all got a part to play in promoting tolerance and that is challenging extremism.
“I believe that diversity is not a weakness, it’s a strength and it’s something which we should celebrate.”
Mr Shah died after being attacked by 32-year-old Tanveer Ahmed, with the killer claiming the shopkeeper had ‘disrespected the Prophet Muhammad’.
Ibrahim Ikhlaf, national director of the outreach department of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community UK, said work was needed to be done to dispel misconceptions about their religion.
He added: “We want to promote peace, tolerance and harmony in our community.”
Following her visit to the mosque, Ms Sturgeon spoke at a special peace symposium taking place at Glasgow University.
Ahead of that speech, the first minister said: “The peace symposium demonstrates the commitment of the Ahmadiyya community to promoting the values of peace, tolerance and understanding and is an important opportunity for us to restate our shared values and our shared aims.
“The launch of their ‘True Islam’ campaign is an important educational tool to increase awareness and understanding of the religion. By doing so, it will help combat the fears and prejudices that foster hatred.”
She added: “There is no doubt that this kind of engagement and outreach work is vital to tackling the root causes of prejudice and hatred and create the inclusive, tolerant and cohesive Scotland we all want to see.”