After the Luton on Sunday ran a double–page advertisement for the local Ahmadiyya community, the paper was accused of having ‘misrepresented’ Islam: the Ahmadiyya cannot be Muslims, goes the argument, because they don’t believe that Muhammad was the final prophet. The paper ran a suitably vague statement on the issue, distancing itself from the advert.
I wrote to the editor, explaining why this reaction was inappropriate.
I was disappointed by your recent Statement, in which the Luton on Sunday distanced itself from an advertisement previously run on behalf of the Ahmadiyya.
While I appreciate your good intentions in trying to avoid offence, in this case offence was inevitable. The Ahmadiyya consider themselves Muslims; other Muslim denominations disagree. The question is, simply, whether the Ahmadiyya have the right to choose their own identity.
When you received complaints, you should have defended the advert as a harmless celebration of a religious minority. Instead, you have conceded the high ground to those Muslims who claim the copyright to Islam: who would impose their ‘orthodoxy’ on a diverse, loose-knit fellowship of British Muslims.
I do hope you will continue to accept adverts from the Ahmadiyya, and from all peaceful denominations.
Ian D. Morris
National Research Council