A minority religious group in Waltham Forest says it is suffering discrimination and has accused the council and local MP of not doing enough to help.

And a former counter-extremism co-ordinator at Waltham Forest Council has spoken out to support the claims.

Ahmadi-Muslims say they have been excluded from representation on Waltham Forest Faith Communities Forum.

Charlotte Littlewood, who believed her role was to stop the council involving itself with groups that went against its values, says she raised concerns with her former employers at the council about the conduct of the forum.

The 27-year-old, was later dismissed from her counter-extremism role after facing a disciplinary hearing on allegations that she had breached her obligations of confidentiality. The council says her dismissal was not related to her criticisms of the forum.

The forum is intended to promote religious cohesion, with representatives from different faiths as members.

But it is accused of excluding and refusing voting rights for a representative of the Ahmadiyya community, a religious minority which sees itself as part of Islam, but which is shunned by orthodox Muslims as “heretical”.

The forum’s constitution, dated 2015, lists the faiths that are afforded voting rights within the organisation, but Ahmadi-Muslims do not appear on that list.

The forum’s constitution states that in order to gain voting rights, a group must identify itself as part of one of seven religions: Baha’i, Buddist, Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Jewish or Sikh.

But the constitution also states a group must be “considered by the majority of members of their stated religion as being part of that religion” before it can be granted voting rights.

Arif Khan, an Ahmadi-Muslim imam who pushed for his community to be recognised in the faith forum, was blocked from representing Islam on the forum.

Minutes from the faith forum’s AGM held on October 16 2017 in Waltham Forest town hall’s council chamber show a procedure in which the Ahmadi imam was voted down from becoming a Muslim representative. All four of the dominant Muslim membership of the forum vetoed the appointment, while other faith representatives voted in favour or abstained.

The minutes state the vote results were as follows:

Votes in favour: Three – Arif Khan (Ahmadiyya Muslim Association), Wendy Smith (Buddhist), Harvinder Singh (Sikh).

Votes against were four – Yusuf Hansa, Saira Mir, Iqbal Mehtar (voting by proxy) and Muhammad Mulla (voting by proxy) (all Muslim Representatives).

There were four abstentions – Paul Braham (Jewish), Sue Diplock (Christian), Tara Khare (Forest Women’s Interfaith Network), Ted Cooke (the Standing Advisory Council for Religious Education).

Mr Khan said: “We are discriminated against around the world. It was really disappointing and very shocking to feel discriminated against in that environment, with people from so many faiths and backgrounds, and even some people who know what it feels like to be discriminated against.”

He believes the forum’s constitution legitimises the discrimination.

He says attitudes from Pakistan and India have come to the UK and that the most extreme version of this thinking led to the religiously-motivated murder of shopkeeper Asad Shah in Glasgow in 2016.

He added: “Slowly this kind of hatred is coming to the UK. Our elders came here to have a better life and to be able to live with the religious freedom we were promised.

“But now, I’m seeing how people are being influenced to persecute us, even here in East London.

“This kind of thinking is very wrong.”

After the group’s AGM, Mr Khan reached out to Waltham Forest Council via email.

He said he received “dismissive emails” and “little to no communication” in response to his concerns.

The imam also emailed the MP for Walthamstow, Stella Creasy.

Ms Creasy wrote back to him and said: “Am so sorry to hear of this – is it ok for me to share your email with the council to ask them about this matter?”

Mr Khan heard nothing from the MP or the council until January 3, 2018, when Ms Creasy wrote back saying she was “very worried” about the allegations.

The MP copied council leader Cllr Clare Coghill and council chief executive Martin Esom into that email and asked them to respond, stating she knew they both took the allegations “very seriously”.

But the imam has since heard nothing back from Ms Creasy or the council and no action has been taken.

The Ahmadiyya community in the borough ultimately decided to boycott the Waltham Forest Faith Community Forum.

A member of one of the local religious communities, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: “The faith forum is a group that should serve and represent the whole community. No one should be denied representation or be judged to be not of the faith they claim on the basis of the sectarian beliefs of some of the members.

“There is a conspiracy of silence in Waltham Forest when it comes to the Ahmadiyya and their concerns. Rising tensions in groups such as the faith forum are ignored. Anyone raising these issue is aware that not only will nothing be done but they themselves fear they will become a target for hatred.”

Following her dismissal from the council, Charlotte Littlewood has accused the authority of “colluding in sectarianism” for its failure to act on the Ahmadiyya community’s concerns – a criticism the council has denied and labelled “inaccurate and misleading”.

Ms Littlewood is now conducting a nationwide research project into the alleged persecution of Ahmadi-Muslims across the country, funded by the charity Ahmadiyya UK.

Waltham Forest Council was asked for its position on the issues Ms Littlewood raised about Ahmadi voting rights in the Faith Forum, but it did not address these questions directly in its response.

The authority said it would not be “appropriate” to provide further details of the circumstances surrounding Ms Littlewood’s dismissal from her role.

When asked for comment, Stella Creasy MP said: “As you are referring to casework I have undertaken for a constituent, I hope you will also understand that I cannot comment on this and any work I have done in raising his concerns without his direct permission.”