قالب وردپرس درنا توس
Home / World / US citizen shot dead in Pakistan courtroom during blasphemy trial

US citizen shot dead in Pakistan courtroom during blasphemy trial



Tahir Ahmed Naseem, 47, died Wednesday in the northwestern city of Peshawar after a member of the public entered the courtroom and opened fire in front of the judge, according to officials. His assailant was arrested at the scene.

Naseem was on trial on blasphemy charges as he allegedly claimed to be a prophet, a crime punishable by death or life imprisonment under Pakistani penal code.

In a statement, the US State Department said officials were “shocked, saddened and outraged” by Naseem’s death. The statement said Naseem was “lured to Pakistan from his home in Illinois by individuals who later used Pakistan blasphemy laws to block him.”

; He did not provide further details. Naseem had received consular assistance since his arrest in 2018.

“We extend our condolences to the family of Tahir Naseem, the American citizen who was killed today inside a courtroom in Pakistan,” the State Department Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs said in a separate statement posted online Thursday. . “We urge Pakistan to take immediate action and pursue reforms that will prevent such a shameful tragedy from happening again.”

According to a Peshawar police spokesman, the suspected killer told Naseem that he was an “enemy of religion” and that he deserved to be killed before opening fire.

Police are investigating how the suspect was able to enter the courtroom with a loaded weapon. Security guards are usually stationed outside court buildings and police officers guard individual courtrooms.

Weapons are hard to come by in Pakistan – civilians cannot buy a weapon or carry one without a valid license. Members of the public are also not usually allowed in local courtrooms, such as the one where Naseem was shot.

Blasphemy linked violence

The case has once again highlighted tensions over the country’s strict blasphemy laws, which have been linked to a number of violent acts, including at least one deadly shooting in recent years.

International human rights groups have widely condemned the law, which critics say has been disproportionately used against religious minority groups and to prosecute journalists critical of the Pakistani religious institution.

According to a country-specific report by the nonprofit group Human Rights Watch last year, at least 17 people remain on trial on blasphemy charges. Most are members of religious minorities.
However, violence against those who criticize the blasphemy law has had a “cold effect” on efforts to reform the legislation, HRW said.

There are also fears that strict Islamic groups could end up hailing the Naseem attacker as a hero, as they have done in the past for the killers of those linked to blasphemy allegations.

In 2010, the mother of five Christian children Azi Bibi was convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to death. A year later, Punjab provincial governor Salman Taseer was shot dead by his bodyguard for expressing support for Bibi and condemning the country’s strict blasphemy laws.
Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi Remains Free as Supreme Court Says It Will Not Consider Her Case

His killer, Mumtaz Qadri, was immediately handed over to police and later executed. But for many strict Islamists, Qadri was a martyr and his tomb became a shrine for those who support the death sentence of Asia Bibi.

After the Supreme Court acquitted Bibi in 2018, Maulana Sami ul Haq, a Pakistani political and religious leader known as the “father of the Taliban”, was assassinated calling for the reversal of her decision.

In that time, Rabia Mehmood, a former Amnesty International researcher, said Bibi’s case became so divisive that the Pakistani government had failed to take action to curb “the campaign of hatred and violence instigated by certain groups in the country”.




Source link