Muslim prison chaplains have warned their lives are in danger from sectarian radicals supporting a Sunni Muslim from Bradford who killed a member of the Ahmadiyya sect living in Scotland.
The religious leaders say killer Tanveer Ahmed has “put out a death warrant” on their heads and that there are radical Muslims living in English “ghettos” who are prepared to kill them, demanding more protection.
They have been passing authorities information on Mr. Ahmed’s activities behind bars, claiming he is preaching extremism and encouraging sectarian violence.
Mr. Ahmed is serving 27 years after driving 200 miles to Glasgow in March 2016 to kill shopkeeper Asad Shah, hours after he wished his “beloved Christian nation” happy Easter on social media.
Mr. Shah was a member of the minority Ahmadiyya sect, which has theological differences with mainstream Islam, promotes peace and integration, and strongly supports British armed forces.
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) July 7, 2016
The sect is excluded from public office, officially declared apostates, and widely persecuted in their native Pakistan, where killers of “apostates” are celebrated by thousands, including Mr. Ahmed, who has become a cult figure.
The prison chaplains in Scotland, who are paid to provide spiritual guidance to Muslim prisoners, say they fear a copycat attack and are demanding more protection in talks with the Scottish Prison Service.
“This is a vocation but I’m not going to put my family at risk for it,” one told the Scottish Herald. “Ahmed is promoting sectarian division which is much more dangerous to Scotland than [Islamic State].
“My experience is we do not have an ISIS problem in Scotland. I haven’t had any prisoners of that ilk. In my experience, the biggest risk is this sectarianism within the Muslim community.
“And Tanveer Ahmed’s warped thinking is we’re spying on Muslims, so he’s put out a death warrant on chaplains. Down in England, there are ghettos where his horrendous behaviour is regarded as heroic, and he is a leader of a cause.
“If someone wanted to take up his cause they could. This is our biggest challenge to the prevention of extremism in Scotland.”
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) January 17, 2017
Since he was sentenced, Mr. Ahmed has moved prison three times and was banned from making phone calls after calling for his growing international following to “eliminate” enemies of Islam from his cell in Scotland.
Another chaplain, who also wanted to remain anonymous, said threats had been posted online, adding: “It’s not too hard to find the names of Muslims providing chaplaincy services”.
“He isn’t interacting with any programmes and is adamant that he’s right to do what he did,” they continued.
“That’s very worrying because he is mixing with other Muslims. We will challenge anyone who has extreme views or criminal views on anything.
“Our only hope is by keeping him in the mainstream population and by treating him normally we can engage with him in classes and teach him.”
A spokeswoman for Police Scotland said: “It would be inappropriate for Police Scotland to comment on this matter which lies with the Scottish Prison Service.”