Tuesday, April 25, 2017

UK: Young Muslim men out to do good in Oldham


"I had a class fellow who was a good friend but wouldn't sit next to me in the canteen. Our neighbours of 15 years never replied when we greeted them."

Times of Ahmad | News Watch | UK Desk
Source/Credit: Oldham Evening Chronicles
By Iram Ramzan | 25 April 2017

COME rain or shine, Laiq Khan and his team of around 50 youths from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association's North-West branch will be out in the streets of Oldham and doing their bit for their local community.

Whether it is cleaning Oldham town centre on a wet New Year's Day, helping plant trees, or donating to the local food bank, Ahmadi Muslims in the borough take pride in knowing they are doing good work.

While some of them were born and brought up here, others are now living safely and comfortably after fleeing persecution in their native Pakistan.

In May 2010, in Lahore, Punjab, during Friday prayers, 94 people were killed and more than 120 were injured in nearly simultaneous attacks against two mosques of the Ahmadi community. After the initial attack, a hostage situation lasted for hours. The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility.

One of the survivors of the attack is Ahmad Mustafa, who was inside one of the mosques at the time.

"We were told not to come down," Ahmad recalled. "We were in there for around two hours. Sometimes I can still hear the sounds of the firing. We called the police but they didn't come straight away. We were waiting for two hours."

It was after this horrific incident that Ahmad (37) came to the UK in 2011. He now lives in St Mary's with his wife and three children, and works for Amazon.

Ahmad said: "I had a class fellow who was a good friend but wouldn't sit next to me in the canteen. Our neighbours of 15 years never replied when we greeted them.

"Here we have freedom. We give out cards to everyone for Christmas and on Eid or during Ramadan our neighbours celebrate with us.

"At work I have had conversations with my Muslim colleagues. In Pakistan we can't even do that."

Ahsan (40) came to the UK in August 2011. He was an electrical engineer near Karachi, the southern port city. Now he lives in Springhead with his wife and four children and works in sales.

"I had a good job but I was facing a lot of persecution," said Ahsan.

"They see you as third class, we don't have any rights. We're born there but we can't live there. My parents are still there. A few weeks ago I talked to them and I got scared. We're trying to get them out."

Laiq Khan (32), group leader of the North West branch came to the UK in October 2010, shortly after the attack on the mosques in Lahore. His wife joined him and their three children were born here.

Laiq lives in Glodwick and is studying IT at college while holding a job as a bus driver. In Islamabad, the Pakistani capital where Laiq grew up, he was unable to discuss his faith and was constantly abused by his fellow citizens.


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