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Brazen killing of U.S. citizen prompts new criticism of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws

Video of the killing extensively circulated on social media confirmed police restraining the shooter as Naseem lay in a pool of blood on the ground only a few toes away. The shooter might be heard saying the prophet Muhammad instructed him to kill Naseem in a dream.

“He’s the enemy of Islam . . . the enemy of Pakistan,” the shooter mentioned.

Inam Ullah Yousafzai, a lawyer who was within the courtroom, mentioned that after killing Naseem, the shooter positioned his pistol on a desk and surrendered to police. One other lawyer current on the court docket remarked on how troublesome it could be to carry a weapon into the constructing. The courthouse is closely guarded, with a number of safety searches and checkpoints that anybody who desires to enter should go by means of.

The shooter was taken into custody Thursday and charged with homicide and terrorism. The Pakistani authorities has not launched an official assertion on the case.

The U.S. State Division mentioned Naseem was a U.S. citizen and known as in a tweet for “instant motion” in response to his killing.

Cale Brown, a State Department spokesman, said the United States had worked with Naseem’s family since his detention in 2018 and alerted senior Pakistani officials to his case “to prevent the type of shameful tragedy that eventually occurred,” according to a statement. Brown said Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are often abused and demanded they be reformed.

Pakistan’s blasphemy laws have long faced fierce criticism from international human rights groups, which have demanded their repeal. Human Rights Watch has reported that the laws “present a pretext for violence in opposition to spiritual minorities, in addition to arbitrary arrests and prosecution.”

Anybody discovered responsible of insulting Islam could be sentenced to dying, and allegations of blasphemy have triggered violent riots. Blasphemy allegations have led to extrajudicial murders, rights teams say. However whereas many inmates are on dying row for blasphemy in Pakistan, the nation has by no means carried out a dying sentence in these instances.

Most of these accused of blasphemy, like Naseem, belong to the Ahmadia minority group, which is seen by many Muslims in Pakistan as heretical.

Hours after the information of Naseem’s killing was reported in native media, a hashtag started trending on social media praising the shooter as a hero. Many of these selling the hashtag described themselves as Taliban sympathizers.

A relative of Naseem’s ex-wife in Pakistan mentioned when he was dwelling exterior Peshawar, he survived a number of Taliban assassination makes an attempt.

The relative, Amjad Ali, mentioned Naseem’s beliefs shortly grew to become controversial within the small village he lived in earlier than transferring to the USA. Naseem’s spouse divorced him in 2008 shortly after their marriage, and Naseem’s family members started receiving dying threats, finally forcing them to promote their possessions and go away, in accordance with Ali.

“Now he has nobody within the village,” Ali mentioned.

In a single of Pakistan’s most up-to-date high-profile blasphemy instances, an illiterate girl, Asia Bibi, was charged and imprisoned on dying row for eight years earlier than she was acquitted and ultimately sought asylum in Canada final 12 months. Her launch sparked violent riots, and he or she continued to obtain dying threats from Islamist extremists even after fleeing to Canada.

George reported from Kabul.

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