RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – As many as 80 people have been killed after a series of suicide bombings at a mosque in Pakistan. The mosques were home to Ahmadiyya Muslim Community who were critical of a radical sect of Muslims who believe their sect the favored by the Koran. This attack was especially horrific to our guest, Qasim Rashid, a University of Richmond Law student, who had family there worshipping during the attacks.
Ryan Nobles: What have you learned from your family who was there? I understand you have loss of life and people seriously injured?
Qasim Rashid: Yes Ryan, what's most disappointing about this, is that the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has been victim for nearly four decades of state sanctioned persecution and extremism. We learned something we've known all along. When you have a government that has restricted freedom of expression and freedom of religion, you're essentially creating a breeding ground for these types of extremists to exist in the first place.
Ryan Nobles: Do you think it's difficult for those of us in the United States to understand this? A lot of people who aren't Muslim probably group all Muslims into one category; to learn that certain sects of Muslim groups are attacking other sects of other Muslim groups?
Qasim Rashid: In fact, I myself have received several e-mails where people are surprised about this and the unique difference is that the members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community are essentially Muslims who believe in the Messiah. We believe in the long awaited reformer that came to reunite mankind under the banner of peace and oftentimes people don't know the difference, so the unique aspect is that as Muslims who believe in the Messiah, we reject violence, and as I mentioned last time I was on here, that rejection of violence is one of the reasons that these types of laws are passed against us in the first place.
Ryan Nobles: You've told me before you've been to this mosque before. Was it always nerve wracking for your family who weren't to openly worship in a way that was opposed to what the government and this radical believed was okay.
Qasim Rashid: Certainly the threat was always there. Since 1974, they actually may it a criminal offense for Muslims who believe in the Messiah for worship openly, so whenever you go out, you know that consequence could be there and as a result you take extra precautions. In this particular scenario, we had security on staff but this was such a coordinated attack, that they took out the security right away.
Ryan Nobles: Our thoughts are with you and your family and good luck as you start to sort through this terrible tragedy.
Qasim Rashid: Thank you.
See the video at right for the full interview.