Death threats sent to Muslim human rights lawyer who called for unity

Police in Scotland are investigating death threats against a prominent human rights lawyer after he spoke out against extremism and called for unity within the Muslim community in the wake of the slaying of a Muslim shopkeeper.

Muslim lawyer Aamer Anwar says he has received a number of death threats from Islamic “fanatics” in the middle of the night and been the subject of hateful messages on social media.

Chairing an event last week at the Glasgow Central Mosque, Aamer Anwar spoke out against violence and extremism, following the brutal killing of shopkeeper Asad Shah who had wished his customers a happy Easter, and also in the wake of terror attacks in Brussels and Lahore.

The event was intended to build bridges between Glasgow’s divided Muslim factions.

“Having been a campaigner for human rights for over 25 years, I have grown used to the bile and hatred directed at me; sadly that is par for the course,” Anwar said.

“On occasion when I have had my life seriously threatened, I have informed the police but have always chosen to keep it private. On this occasion I could no longer remain silent, because of a small minority who believe they can silence me by creating a climate of fear.

“With a young family I could be forgiven if I had chosen to shut up and walk away. The pressure from the community, friends and family to protect myself from the fanatics has been enormous.

“It is a terrifying and deeply lonely place to be when you say goodbye to your children and wonder if it is for the last time, but the death of Asad Shah should be a wakeup call to our community that we must not be silenced.

The Glasgow Central Mosque, Scotland’s largest mosque, has fielded a spate of controversy in recent weeks. Last week, a BBC investigation revealed links between senior figures at the mosque and a banned Pakistani separatist group.

It recently emerged that the mosque’s imam, Habib ur Rehman praised extremist Mumtaz Qadri as a “true Muslim” and hero. Rehman was protesting Qadri’s execution for the 2011 murder of Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab province who had railed against Pakistan’s strict blasphemy laws.