Hazel Southam - Journalist

UK children should take pledge of allegiance - Muslim group

Schoolchildren in the UK should be asked to make a regular US-style pledge of allegiance to the British flag, a persecuted Muslim group has suggested.
More than 30,000 Ahmadi Muslims are gathering this weekend at a farm in rural Hampshire.
It comes in the wake of the murder of the Glasgow shopkeeper Asad Shah, who was a member of the Ahmadi community.
His attacker, Tanveer Ahmed from Bradford, was sentenced to 27 years imprisonment on Tuesday.
The three-day event 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, has long suffered persecution at the hands of other Muslims who do not believe that they are true members of Islam.
At Friday prayers, His Holiness Masroor Ahmad, known as the Fifth Caliph of the worldwide Ahmadiyya community, called on Allah to give the community “protection” from those he said had “cruel plans” against them.
He was flanked by security guards, including two who carried briefcases containing devices designed to deflect bomb blasts.
As he spoke, for 45 minutes, seven black cars with their number plates blacked out waited outside, their engines idling ready to whisk him to safety in case of emergency.
Ahmed Owusu-Konadu, a spokesman for the Ahmadi community in Glasgow said that the community remained shocked after the murder and sentencing.
“The raising of the flag is beautiful,” he said.
“We do this as opposed to so-called Muslims who are planning to attack the country that they live in and who cause atrocities.”
The event took place down a leafy country lane, bordered with fields and oak, hazel and hawthorn bushes.
David Ashcroft, Chairman of the East Hants District Council attended the event. He said that there were mixed feelings in the community about the event.
But he added: “We are delighted that the Ahmadi community are here.
“At the end of the day this is a tolerant country and we should be tolerant people.
“Live and let live.
“The fact that they are here sends a message that they want to be inclusive and be part of our community.”


About Hazel

Hazel Southam is an award-winning journalist who reports on religious affairs, international development and the environment. She has covered four G8 Summits.

She wrote for The Sunday and Daily Telegraph for 10 years. Her work has also appeared in The Guardian, The Independent, The Independent on Sunday, The Daily Mail and The Evening Standard.

Reporting assignments have taken her to places including Bosnia, Zimbabwe, Mongolia, Albania, Nagorno-Karabakh, Senegal and the Arctic Circle.

In the UK, she has also delivered media training to the MOD and leading businesses.

Contact Hazel