In a brutal incident, an elderly man belonging to the minority Islamic sect of Ahmadiyyas, who was facing a trial for ‘blasphemy’, was shot dead in front of the judge in a local court situated in a high-security zone in Pakistan’s Peshawar city on Wednesday.
According to the reports, Tahir Ahmad Naseem, who was arrested on the charges of blasphemy two years ago, died on the spot in the court of Additional Session Judge Shaukatullah Khan after being shot at. The man on trial was facing charges for ‘insulting’ the Muslim Prophet Muhammad.
A lawyer, who witnessed the incident, said that a case had been registered against the deceased under blasphemy laws. The accused was brought to court from Peshawar Central Jail. In Pakistan, the offences under blasphemy laws attract a maximum punishment, including the death sentence.
“During the hearing of the case, the complainant said that the accused was an Ahmadi and asked him to recite the Kalima-e-Tayyaba,” the lawyer said, adding that the complainant then fired at the elderly man and killed him.
Man under trial for #blasphemy shot dead inside a courtroom in Peshawar. Shooter said he ‘defended Islam’ by killing accused. Tahir Ahmed was booked for claiming to be a prophet in 2018. He had told the court that he suffered from mental illness & was unaware of the consequences. pic.twitter.com/MoF37nkaSU— Naila Inayat नायला इनायत (@nailainayat) July 29, 2020
Reportedly, the court is situated in a high-security zone in the cantonment area next to the provincial assembly building, the Peshawar High Court, chief minister’s secretariat and Governor House. It is not clear how the armed attacker managed to get into the court despite the court is situated in such a highly secured area.
Murdered man was US citizen
The deceased man Tahir Ahmed was a US citizen. The USA’s Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs has condemned the murder and has asked Pakistan to take urgent steps to prevent such incidents.
We extend our condolences to the family of Tahir Naseem, the American citizen who was killed today inside a courtroom in Pakistan. We urge Pakistan to take immediate action and pursue reforms that will prevent such a shameful tragedy from happening again.— State_SCA (@State_SCA) July 30, 2020
Muhammad ordered me to kill him, says accused
The police arrested the killer, identified as Khalid Khan. The killer reportedly confessed to the police that he had been ordered to carry out the killing by Muhammad because the accused had belonged to the Ahmadiyya faith.
According to Pakistan police, an FIR was registered against the deceased in 2018. The complainant had stated that the deceased belonged to the Ahmadi community and “befriended him on Facebook” and in subsequent conversations, claimed that he was the “fourteenth Mujaddid”.
“He then invited me to have a discussion with him at a mall in the city where he started talking about his belief,” the complainant had said in the FIR.
The deceased elder man was charged under Section 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups), section 295-A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs), Section 295-B (defiling etc. of the Holy Quran), Section 295-C (use of derogatory remarks against Prophet Muhammad PBUH) and Section 298 (uttering words etc., with deliberate intent to wound religious feelings) of the Pakistan Penal Code.
Pakistan’s controversial and stringent blasphemy laws are often misused to settle personal scores.
Who are Ahmadiyyas?
Ahmadiyya Community is a sect of Islam that is often persecuted in Islamic countries because other sects of Muslims believe that the community is not “Muslim enough”. The Islamic sect has around 4 million members, who have faced continuous persecution for decades in Pakistan.
In 1974, Pakistan’s Parliament had declared the Ahmadi community as non-Muslims. They were banned over the issue of its founder, Ghulam Ahmad, calling himself as a prophet. In orthodox Islam, there can be no prophets after Muhammad. A decade later, they were banned from calling themselves Muslims.
They are banned from preaching and from travelling to Saudi Arabia for pilgrimage. In Pakistan, around 10 million out of the 220 million population are non-Muslims.
Interestingly, Ahmadiyyas, who are now persecuted by Islamists in Pakistan, were at the forefront of the creation of Pakistan. An Ahmadiyya Unit fought against India in Kashmir in 1947-48. One of the foremost advocates for Pakistan was Muhammad Zafrulla Khan who was an Ahmadiyya. The Lahore Resolution of 1940 was authored by Khan himself.