A Sunni Muslim taxi-driver has admitted killing an Ahmadi Muslim shopkeeper outside his shop in Glasgow because he felt he had disrespected “the Koran, the Prophet Muhammad, Allah, and Faith”.
Asad Shah, 40, moved from Pakistan to Glasgow with his family in 1991 to escape the persecution suffered by Ahmadi Muslims in that country. But on March 24th, shortly after posting a video on YouTube wishing his Christian customers a happy Easter, Mr. Shah was fatally stabbed and beaten – because of his Ahmadi faith.
Appearing at the High Court in Glasgow, Tanveer Ahmed, 32, a Sunni Muslim from Bradford in West Yorkshire, admitted to the murder of Mr. Shah, The Telegraph has reported.
In a statement read out in court, Mr. Ahmed said that he had carried out the murder as Mr. Shah had “disrespected the prophet of Islam, the messenger of Allah, Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.”
“I wish to make it clear that the incident was nothing at all to do with Christianity or any other religious beliefs. Even although I am a follower of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, I also love and respect Jesus Christ.”
Advocate depute Iain McSporran told the court that his client “said that he had warned Asad Shah that he was there to kill him, had asked him to stop claiming to be a prophet, but that he had insisted he was.”
CCTV evidence from the shop shows the two men conversing “intensely” in Urdu over claims that Mr. Shah had made out that he was a prophet. Ahmadi Muslims are alone in the Muslim faith for not holding that Muhammed was the last and final prophet.
“From what we can see of Mr. Shah, he is responding but not apparently agreeing with the accused,” Mr. McSporran said.
“The accused, having apparently not received the response he was looking for, reaches into the robes he is wearing and removes a knife with which he attacks Asad Shah, moving behind the counter to do so.”
Two other people were present in the shop: Stephen McFadyen, and Mr. Shah’s brother Athar. Both tried to stop the attack by attempting to intervene; Athar even wielded the only thing to hand – an advertising sign – but to no effect.
“Whilst the attack continued, with the accused kneeling on the victim [now outside the shop], pinning him to the ground, Stephen McFadyen bravely reached for the knife and grabbed it from the accused, running across the road and placing it in bushes out of harm’s way.
“The accused then began punching, kicking and stamping with full force on the prone body of Asad Shah, who was long past being in any position to defend himself.
“The attack ceased suddenly and the accused walked calmly to a bus shelter nearby where he sat, head bowed as if in prayer.”
When police found Mr. Ahmed in the nearby bus shelter, he told them: “I respect what you do and I have nothing against you and so I am not going to hurt you. I have broken the law and appreciate how you are treating me.”
Mr. Shah’s family were not present in court, partly for fear of their own safety and also because they did not want to face the killer, but a victim statement from his wife, parents and six siblings was read out.
His parents said: “We brought our children to this country to seek refuge from Pakistan in 1991 fleeing persecution, religious hatred, discrimination and a danger to our lives because we were Ahmadis.
“We never thought that we could be in danger here.
“We feel imprisoned by our pain and suffering and we have little hope of ever having a normal life again.
“Most of the family, unable to live with this turmoil, pain and fear, has taken a decision to leave Scotland forever.”
Judge Lady Rae told Mr. Ahmed: “This was a truly despicable crime, motivated, it seems, by your sense of offence at a man’s expression of his religious beliefs, which differ from yours.
“Let me be clear – there’s no justification whatsoever for what you did.”
He will be sentenced on August 9th having pled guilty.