Critics have questioned a prominent Muslim organisation's commitment to fighting extremism, and accused it of failing to expel a charity which has allegedly called for Ahmadi Muslims to be killed.
The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), which represents 500 Islamic mosques, schools and institutions in the UK, announced its intention on Thursday (20 October) "to explore a grassroots-led response to the challenge of terrorism."
The plans are a direct challenge to the government's counter-extremism Prevent strategy, some believe unfairly targets Muslim communities.
Critics though have questioned the organisation's willingness to fight violent extremism, and accused it of stalling an investigation into a UK affiliate of the violently sectarian Khatme Nubuwwat movement, which has called on followers of the Ahmadi Muslim sect to be killed as apostates.
The Ahmadiyya community are accused by some Muslims of not worshipping Mohammed as the final prophet.
MP Siobhain McDonagh's Mitcham and Morden constituency is home to the UK's largest Ahmadi mosque. In a stament to IBTimes UK, she said: "It is right to do all we can to tackle the fact that 3,000 people in the UK might pose a terrorist threat, and I welcome the Muslim Council of Britain's action on this.
"However, these plans seem less convincing, considering the fact that the Council have still not unequivocally rejected the discrimination preached by Khatme Nubuwwat, which until very recently was registered as a UK charity, and it has close ties with London's Stockwell Green mosque.
"The UK government, and the MCB, must take all forms of extremism and terror threats, including those against Ahmadi Muslims, seriously. This is partly an issue of unwillingness on the part of MCB and ignorance on the part of the government."
In March, after decades of violence against the Ahmadiyya in Pakistan, Glasgow Ahmadi shopkeeper Asad Shah was murdered by a Bradford man who claimed he acted to defend the honour of the Prophet Mohammed.
Charity Commission launches separate investigation into group
IBTimes UK subsequently exposed the distribution of leaflets in London calling for the Ahmadi to be killed bearing the address of MCB member and registered charity Aalami Majlise Tahaffuze Khatme Nubuwwat in Stockwell Green. A BBC investigation found copies of the leaflets on mosque premises. The mosque denied distributing the leaflets, and Ofcom recently rejected a complaint against the BBC made by mosque commitee member Toaha Qureshi.
The MCB launched an investigation into the charity, but in a July interim report found "no independent evidence that these leaflets, if indeed were on the premises of Aalami Majlise Tahaffuze Khatme Nubuwwat Stockwell Mosque, were condoned or sanctioned by the Mosque." It is yet to decide on whether to permanantly expel the group.
The Charity Commission has launched a separate investigation into the group, after inspectors identified "serious regulatory concerns."
Mosques throughout Britain have hosted Khatme Nubuwwat themed events for years, in which Ahmadi are referred to by the pejorative name 'Qadiyanis', are branded apostates, and anti-Ahmadi conspiracy theories are circulated.
Sadaf Ahmed, who launched a petition calling for Khatme Nubuwwat linked groups to be banned, said the MCB had tolerated violently sectarian rhetoric.
"The MCB's foot dragging over Khatme Nabuwwat – who have preached death to apostates in many British mosques – makes them poorly placed to run anything that claims to tackle extremism," she told IBTimes UK.
"From its inception as a body to protest against Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses, to the recent whitewash investigation of Khatme Nabuwwat in Stockwell, the MCB seems to have a high tolerance for preachers who preach death to apostates."
The MCB had not responded to a request for comment from IBTimes UK by the time of publication.