On July 29th, a man was shot, and killed, while standing trial for blasphemy in a Pakistan court.
The man, a member of the Ahmadi minority Muslim sect turned out to be a US citizen, the US State Department said.
Tahir Ahmed Naseem, 57, allegedly proclaimed prophethood in 2018 and was fatally shot by a teenager who reportedly justified his action as a defense of Islam.
Indian media lost no time in jumping on the band wagon, reporting that “Pakistan has a new national hero” – Khalid Khan, the new “role model for Pakistan’s youth.”
In a video posted on Facebook, the teenager claimed the Prophet Muhammad “came to me in my dream and told me … to finish [Naseem].”
The US State Department issued a statement urging for justice against Khalid Khan.
The entire statement can be read below. The US also used the chance to urge Pakistan to reform its internal laws since the blasphemy laws were “often abused”:
“We are shocked, saddened, and outraged that American citizen Tahir Naseem was killed yesterday inside a Pakistani courtroom. Mr. Naseem had been lured to Pakistan from his home in Illinois by individuals who then used Pakistan’s blasphemy laws to entrap him. The U.S. Government has been providing consular assistance to Mr. Naseem and his family since his detention in 2018 and has called the attention of senior Pakistani officials to his case to prevent the type of shameful tragedy that eventually occurred. We grieve with the family of Mr. Naseem. We urge Pakistan to immediately reform its often-abused blasphemy laws and its court system, which allow such abuses to occur, and to ensure that the suspect is prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”
Tahir Ahmed Naseem, apparently, was an innocent victim, both to the killing and to the blasphemy trial against him.
He was “lured to Pakistan” from his Illinois home by people who ”then used Pakistan’s blasphemy laws to entrap him”, the statement said.
Pakistani officials said Naseem was charged with blasphemy after he declared himself a prophet.
As Naseem’s arraignment began before the judge, a young man in the room pulled out a handgun and shot him in the head, officials and witnesses said.
Khalid Khan was arrested.
According to a spokesperson for Peshawar police, the alleged killer told Naseem that he was an “enemy of religion” and deserved to be killed before opening fire.
In support of Khan, thousands rallied in Peshawar, carrying signs praising the man for the killing, calling for his immediate release from jail and saying he killed Naseem because the government was too slow in prosecuting blasphemy cases.
Many have been sentenced to death under the blasphemy laws in Pakistan, but nobody has actually been executed, so the prisoners are sitting in prison on death row.
In 2010, Christian mother-of-five Asia Bibi was convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to death. The following year, the governor of Punjab province, Salman Taseer, was shot dead by his own bodyguard for voicing support for Bibi and for condemning the country’s stringent blasphemy laws.
His killer, Mumtaz Qadri, immediately surrendered to police and was later executed. He became a martyr to many hardline Islamists.
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