“This all happened for one reason and no other issues and no other intentions.
“Asad Shah disrespected the messenger of Islam the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him. Mr Shah claimed to be a Prophet.
“When 1400 years ago the Prophet of Islam Muhammad peace be upon him has clearly said that ‘I am the final messenger of Allah there is no more prophets or messengers from God Allah after me.
“‘I am leaving you the final Quran. There is no changes. It is the final book of Allah and this is the final completion of Islam. There is no more changes to it and no one has the right to claim to be a Prophet or to change the Quran or change Islam.’
“It is mentioned in the Quran that there is no doubt in this book no one has the right to disrespect the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him and no one has the right to disrespect the Prophet of Islam Muhammad Peace be upon him.
“If I had not done this others would and there would have been more killing and violence in the world.
“I wish to make it clear that the incident was nothing at all to do with Christianity or any other religious beliefs even although I am a follower of the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him I also love and respect Jesus Christ.”
It is a truly horrifying statement.
The murdered man, Asad Shah, was an Ahmadi – a sect which believes that a 19th century Indian religious teacher called Mirza Ghulam Ahmed, was a prophet. Ahmadis are routinely persecuted in Pakistan. To find evidence that the scourge of that same vile sectarianism that has so riven Pakistan now arising in the UK, is frightening.
There has long been a problem with almost all modern interpretations of Islam and the concept of freedom of speech. The Salman Rushdie Affair demonstrated just how much of a problem many Muslims still have with freedom. Often it is argued away by saying “We believe in freedom but not the freedom to insult religion.” But that is a nonsense – freedom of expression has to include the right to say things which others might find very distasteful about religion, otherwise it is hardly freedom. That is the only way a world which contains followers of so many different religions can function. That is a key lesson of the Enlightenment – which sadly has yet to cast its light on much of the Muslim world.
People are free to regard Ahmadis as being non-Muslims – that is their right. To persecute them on that account, however, is just revolting.
One can only hope that those who are prepared to use this kind of violence to try and intimidate others who disagree with their beliefs are brought to justice before they can commit their awful crimes and that they are given a very long prison sentence indeed where they can coolly reflect on their interpretation of religion and the harm it can cause others.