Over shadowed by the controversy surrounding the ‘wrong film’ being initially named the Best Picture at this years Oscar ceremony was the first Muslim actor to be awarded an Oscar. Mahershala Ali won the Oscar for best supporting actor for his role in Moonlight. I haven’t seen moonlight so cannot comment about his performance but I have seen him recently in the wonderful Hidden Figures film (a must see film in my opinion) as well as his role as Remy Danton in the wonderful Netflix version of House of Cards.
However my post is not one about critical acclaim of film and television. Mahershala is a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim sect – a sect within Islam I have written about on this blog before. My first introduction to the Ahmadiyya Muslims was when a group of them generously presented a cheque for £500 to the Penistone Mayors fund last year – an incredibly generous gesture particularly as Penistone is hardly an Islamic hot spot! As a curious person I did a little bit of digging as to who the Ahmadiyya are which I wrote about in this post.
No, my post is not about film but the Oscar success of Mr Ali has brought to the surface again the disgusting, unfair and cruel persecution the Ahmadiyya receive. Not from morons who know no better at the lower end of our social mix who think all Muslims are terrorists or from dangerous morons like President Trump. No the Ahmadiyya receive their horrifying persecution from fellow Muslims.
In places like Pakistan laws are in place that ensure if an Ahmadi Muslim declares him or herself a Muslim, or if they use the traditional Islamic greeting or publicly quote the Qur’an they could be thrown into prison. In 2010 around 90 people were killed in a terrorist attack on two Ahmadi mosques in Lahore, Pakistan. The culprits were alleged to be a Pakistani branch of the Taliban. To date no one has been prosecuted for this.
The motto of the Ahmadi is “Love for all, Hatred for none”. These are people that condemn anti-Semitic attacks on Jewish cemeteries and indeed help rebuild them after they are attacked. These are people who give significant portions of their salaries and time to charities and good deeds. These are people who really do live the commandment to “love thy neighbour as yourself”. These are people who came to Penistone with no agenda and no connections and gave £500 to help our community in whatever way we wished.
The Ahmadiyya are special people whose plight at the hands of fellow Muslims as well as their generosity basic human kindness should be proclaimed at the highest level. Whilst non-religious myself I will continue shouting them from the rooftops because I think what they stand for and what they do is amazing and what they have to endure is a disgrace that is not well enough known, publicised or taken up by those in positions of power and responsibility.
Maybe Mahershala Ali’s Oscar win could shed some light on their plight? Maybe not though – in a telling moment, once it was known a first Muslim actor had won an Oscar, the Pakistani ambassador to the UN, Maleeha Lodhi sent a congratulatory tweet. Once it became clear Mr Ali was an Ahmadi Muslim, she deleted the tweet. Apparently Mr Ali isn’t Muslim enough for Pakistans UN ambassador!