A few months back, after the Brussels terrorist attacks, I pointed out on Coffee House that there is a certain routine after any such atrocity. One part of it is that, after a couple of days pause, we always get the ‘Muslim good news story’. This is the part when after a couple of days of everyone insisting Islam has nothing to do with the Islamist attack the national and international media gets to run almost as big a story suggesting that although Islam is not part of any problem, it is, however, a very major answer to almost everything.
Fortunately the slaughter of Father Jacques Hamel last week has already got its good news story. Near the top of the news agenda on Sunday was news that Muslims had attended mass across France and Italy in solidarity. It is the sort of heart-warming news story to which the media these days is enormously attracted and, therefore, enormously vulnerable.
I have been scouring through these stories and the striking thing about them is that in most cases the Muslim attendees at mass appear to have been – as I would have expected them to be – Ahmadiyya Muslims. This is the persecuted sect which many Muslims regard as non-Muslims and who are subjected to severe persecution around the world from other Muslims. Even here in the UK. Despite being a tiny minority sect within Islam they are also – as I have pointed out here before – the group which is almost always behind any positive outreach from the Muslim communities in Europe.
Anyhow – stories of the Muslims of Europe attending church in their dozens as a gesture of solidarity was clearly an Ahmadiyya initiative. Accounts of the Muslims attending mass in Rouen show that they unfurled an Ahmadiyya banner (the banner had the group’s outreach motto, ‘Love for all. Hate for none’ on it). Some accounts of the several dozen Muslims who attended mass in Rouen recorded that ‘Many of the Muslims’ attending mass there were Ahmadiyya.
Of course the BBC headline on this simply said ‘Muslims across France have attended Catholic mass in a gesture of solidarity’. The Archbishop of Rouen is quoted in the story saying that these Muslims told him ‘It’s not Islam which killed Jacques Hamel.’ We also learn that ‘Mosques are not a place in which fanatics become radicalised. Mosques do the opposite of terrorism: they diffuse peace and dialogue.’ This came on the same day we learned of the Imam of a mosque in Cardiff teaching his young male students that Islamic law allows them to take sex slaves.
Alas the BBC story found no time to mention Ahmadiyya Muslims in this beautiful lead story. Not their own persecuted status. Not their own minority status. And not the fact that wonderful as their message is, they are about as representative of their faith as the deeply non-wonderful Neturei Karta are of Jews.
If the BBC headlines had been true then the banlieues would have emptied as young Muslims attended Mass in solidarity. Instead a few dozen Ahmadiyya attended Mass and gave the Western media the good news story they are always on the lookout for. All of which makes one wonder, among other things, whether the historic role of Islam’s most persecuted sect will not in the end be the accidental covering-over of the most painful realities of a creed which has them in the cross-hairs as much – if not more – than everyone else who disagrees with them.