A former member of Pakistan’s minority Ahmadi community was shot dead inside a courtroom in the northwestern city of Peshawar. Tahir Ahmed Naseem was facing blasphemy charges and was reported to be suffering from mental illness. He was brought to court on July 29 for a hearing where he was gunned down by a man identified only as Khalid and believed to be a former student at an Islamic school. The assailant told local media that the Prophet Muhammad had directly ordered him in his dream to kill this man because he was Qadiani, a derogatory term commonly used in Pakistan for Ahmadi Muslims. Naseem had been in prison since his arrest in 2018, allegedly after claiming he was a prophet.
Blasphemy is legally punishable by death in Pakistan. No one has been executed for it by the state but accusations can often lead to violent attacks and murders. The Ahmadi community conveyed its condolences to the victim’s family but denied reports that Naseem was a member of the community. “In a tragic incident today, a man was shot dead in front of a judge in Peshawar. It is being reported that he was Ahmadi, which is not true. He was born Ahmadi but left the community many years ago,” Saleem ud Din, the spokesperson of Jamaat Ahmadiyya Pakistan, said. “Therefore, to avoid any misinformation, I would like to clarify that the deceased was not part of Jamaat Ahmadiyya. In any case our heartfelt condolences go out to his family for their tragic loss.” Meanwhile, in a letter on July 27, Lahore High Court Bar Association, a body representing lawyers, urged the government to stop Ahmadis from sacrificing animals as per Muslim tradition on Eid al-Adha on Aug. 1. The letter called for the government to issue a directive to police officers in Punjab to take “pre-emptive and preventive” measures to stop Ahmadis from doing Qurbani on Eid al-Adha. Declared to be non-Muslim according to the constitution of Pakistan in 1974, Ahmadis are one of the most persecuted minority groups in the ultra-conservative South Asian nation. They are frequently attacked, accused of blasphemy and subjected to discrimination in education and the workplace.
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