Imam Atta-Ul Naseer is a prominent Imam in Athens, Greece. He heads the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community’s mission in that country, and is known for his vocal condemnation of religious extremism in general, and ISIS in particular. Recently, he organized and led a peace campaign in Athens. As part of this outreach initiative, he distributed fliers urging people of different faiths to break bread and seek common ground. His aim: To make friends and have the opportunity to clarify myths and misconceptions about the Muslim faith. He received great response from the majority of the locals.
#PeaceCampaign #Athens #Greece
I'm extremely grateful to all da volunteers who assisted in distribution & all brothers & sisters who assisted with prayers#LetUsUniteForPeace #ΑσΕνωθούμεγιατηνΕιρήνη#UnityForPeace #ΕνότηταγιατηνΕιρήνη#UnityForOurExistence #ΕνότηταγιατηνΎπαρξήΜας https://t.co/TCDZ0qau5j
— Atta-Ul Naseer (@ImamGreece) February 18, 2018
However, the response from some was not so welcoming. Within minutes, Imam Naseer received threatening messages, with one young man of Pakistani origin (who lives in Athens, Greece) determined enough to leave public death threats on the Imam’s social media pages.
But why would another Muslim want to behead an Imam for clarifying the peaceful teachings of Islam? What got Mansoor so triggered?
Mansoor is a Sunni supremacist who identifies with an extremist Barelvi Sunni school of thought that actively glorifies the killing of ‘blasphemers’ and apostates. This gang believes in ‘beheading’ anyone who they perceive to have insulted the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) or the Islamic faith. A few years ago, a prominent governor in Pakistan’s most populous province was slain by his own bodyguard (who identified with the same Barelvi Sunni school of thought) for supporting a mercy plea for an imprisoned Christian mother. The murderer, Mumtaz Qadri, was hailed a saint and is now the poster boy for this rising extremist mindset in Pakistan. Just last year, a British Pakistani man from the same Barelvi Sunni background, Mr. Tanveer Ahmad, traveled hundreds of miles to murder a Muslim shopkeeper in Glasgow, U.K. The victim, Mr. Asad Shah, was a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and had been declared a ‘blasphemer’ for his beliefs. Even after his arrest, Tanveer has called for the killing of blasphemers from the comfort of his prison cell, and has been hailed a hero in Pakistan’s extremist Barelvi Sunni circles.
— Kashif N Chaudhry (@KashifMD) January 23, 2017
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is a revivalist movement within Islam. As the fastest growing faith group worldwide, Ahmadi Muslims promote peace, love and coexistence throughout the world. For their beliefs, the Ahmadi Muslims are subject of extreme hate, and are labeled ‘heretics’ and ‘blasphemers’ by extremist clerics in places such as Pakistan. Many clerics even call for their death as a means of attaining salvation. This sectarianism has led to widespread violence and persecution of Ahmadi Muslims across the ‘Muslim world.’
It is no surprise therefore that with his background, Mansoor Haider has expressed his blood-lust even while living in Greece. For him, killing a ‘blasphemer’ is the easiest way to heaven. As is clear from his own words, he takes pride and honor in being jailed, even hanged, for the murder of Imam Naseer. Such blasphemy killings have happened elsewhere in the West, and now with this public death threat, a very dangerous precedent is being set in Greece.
Mansoor owns a cellphone repair shop in Athens (address: agiou konstantinou 12, Athens, Greece). He has two Facebook profiles (Here and Here), and has listed his contact information publicly on these pages.
#DeathThreat After a few days of #peacecampaign I have received a death threat from a so-called peaceful Sunni Muslim in #Athens #Greece. This life has been given by Allah & He's the one who will take it back 1 day. Please pray that whenever the time comes I go with a smile 🙂 pic.twitter.com/aQDedmOfcV
— Atta-Ul Naseer (@ImamGreece) February 20, 2018
Athens Police should have no trouble locating Mansoor Haider and taking appropriate action. To ensure the safety of the wider society, Greece would best be served by deporting such extremists who have a blood-lust for innocent citizens. Authorities should also promptly monitor his Mosque and the clerics he is in contact with to ensure that the religious extremism and violence he is being taught does not lead to more radicalization and subsequent faith-based violence across Greece.
Imam Naseer wrote to me:
“I have informed the police about it. Lets see what they do about this. It is actually the heroism related to the murder of Salmaan Taseer Sahib and then our Ahmadi brother in UK. Both these killers have been hailed as heroes by these so called clerics and the hate speech against Ahmadi Muslims in mosques keeps going on, so all they know is that we are non-believers and the worst type of non-believers and worthy to be killed.”
Let us hope Mansoor is stopped in his tracks, and that Imam Naseer, and Greece as a whole, remains safe from religious extremism. Mansoor is the very reason why more initiatives on Islamic education are needed in Greece. It is not only Islamophobes who need education and counseling, extremists within Muslim communities do too. These Sunni supremacists are the very reason some Westerners look at Islam with suspicion.
Call To Action: If you agree such religious extremism and violence is unacceptable, contact Athens Police and urge prompt action.
Athens Police HeadQuarters
173, Alexandras Avenue 11522 ATHENS , GREECE
Tel.: +30 210 9515111-9, 7705711-7 , Fax: +30 210 6453155