By Kayleigh Lewis - 6th December 2012
Terrorism in Madrid and London suddenly brought home, for the first time, for ordinary Europeans, the modern reality of religion based terrorism
An event in parliament has heard how extremism continues to pose a threat, and that Europe is no exception.
The event, held on Wednesday and chaired by ECR deputy Charles Tannock, was attended by Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, head of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim community.
The religious leader spoke about the persecution of Ahmaddiyah Muslims by other Islamic sects, and how tolerance and peace are required now more than ever.
Tannock said, "These hard-line Islamist Jihadist sects do not represent, in any way, Islam as a whole or the wider Muslim world."
He continued, "The message of peace comes at a critical time in global politics, extremist ideology has an international impact, if the countries do not check such extremism then it can spread.
"We, in Europe, believe that democracy generally goes hand in hand with respect for fundamental human rights. But the fact remains that religious extremism and violence represent a clear threat to both peace and human rights.
"It can also be closely linked to a brand of international terrorism which is a threat precisely because it is not limited by borders or nationality. Violent words diffused across the internet or television can literally lead to violent actions worldwide.
"The violent scenes often viewed on the television screens of the west are not an armchair spectator sport. Terrorism in Madrid and London suddenly brought home, for the first time, for ordinary Europeans, the modern reality of religion based terrorism."
Other speakers at the event included UK liberal Sarah Ludford, who said, "Sadly we have incidences of hatred, discrimination and violence directed towards those who are considered not to be part of the majority or different in some way.
"It's happening on every continent, and none of us can be isolated in the modern world, we are living in a globalised world, and what happens in other parts of the world matters so much to us."
"The Ahmadi tenet of 'love for all, hatred for none' is a true inspiration and force for peace and respectful co-existence which we desperately need in a modern world and in all parts of the world."
Meanwhile, Claude Moraes, another MEP from London, commented on the attendance at the event, saying that it was a "bigger turn out than most events in the European parliament" and that it showed how important people consider the topic of extremism to be.
He said that, "European parliament is an example of a genuine and unique cross-country, cross-cultural parliament, it is the only cross-country parliament in the world.
"In our constitution we talk about persecution and human rights, and we have to tackle tough questions about tolerance.
"That means we are able to…question our own values and question our own European unity and also question human rights issues around the world, as well as what we do here in the European Union, and that's very important."
Green MEP Jean Lambert also spoke about the EU saying, "Freedom of belief, or indeed freedom to have no belief is a fundamental human right and it forms a part of the human rights dialogue pursued by the European Union and many countries throughout the world."
She also spoke about extremism in Pakistan, where many Ahmadiyyah Muslims have been killed, and the lack of fundamental rights in the country, particularly for women.
Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad received praise from Tannock, as he talked about topics that are particularly controversial in Europe, such as immigration.
Ahmad said that it was the responsibility of both immigrants and local people to display "open-heartedness and tolerance" to avoid "restlessness and anxiety" which can lead to problems.
"The anger and reaction is not just on the small scale, but can and does reach extreme heights, which is why western media regularly speak about those problems," he said.
Estonian deputy Tunne Kelam said, "It is a message of solidarity that the parliament is spreading and I hope that after today it is a message that will be heard louder and stronger than ever."