US says man gunned down in Pakistani courtroom was American


ISLAMABAD (AP) — A person gunned down this week in a Pakistani courtroom whereas standing trial on a cost of blasphemy was a U.S. citizen, in response to a U.S. State Department assertion.

Tahir Naseem was “lured to Pakistan” from his home in Illinois and entrapped by the nation’s blasphemy legal guidelines, which worldwide rights teams have sought to have repealed, the assertion issued late Thursday mentioned. It didn’t elaborate on the circumstances during which Naseem got here to be within the South Asian nation.

Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy regulation requires the demise penalty for anybody discovered responsible of insulting Islam however in Pakistan the mere allegation of blasphemy could cause mobs to riot and vigilantes to commit homicide.

“We are shocked, saddened, and outraged that American citizen Tahir Naseem was killed yesterday inside a Pakistani courtroom,” the State Department assertion learn.

Pakistani officers mentioned Naseem was charged with blasphemy after he declared himself a prophet. Police in northwest Peshawar province initially recognized him as Tahir Shameem Ahmed, however later corrected themselves.

There was no instant remark from Pakistani authorities and the assailant, recognized as Khalid Khan, was arrested. It wasn’t clear how he entered the courtroom and managed to get previous safety with a weapon. Naseem died earlier than he might be transported to a hospital.

“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,” mentioned the assertion issued by Cale Brown, the State Department’s principal deputy spokesperson.

Although Pakistani authorities have but to hold out a demise sentence for blasphemy, there are scores of accused on demise row. Most are Muslims and lots of belong to the Ahmadyya sect of Islam, reviled by mainstream Muslims as heretics.

Besides the State Department, the U.S. Commission on International Freedom condemned the killing.

“Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are indefensible to begin with, but it is outrageous beyond belief that the Pakistani government was incapable of keeping an individual from being murdered within a court of law for his faith, and a U.S. citizen, nonetheless,” Commissioner Johnnie Moore said in a statement.

“Pakistan must protect religious minorities, including individuals accused of blasphemy, in order to prevent such unimaginable tragedies,” Moore mentioned within the assertion.

The Commission declared Pakistan a “nation of specific concern” in its 2020 report launched final month due to its therapy of minorities.

Religious minorities in Pakistan are more and more below assault at the same time as Prime Minister Imran Khan preaches a “tolerant” Pakistan. Observers warn of even harder instances forward as Khan vacillates between attempting to forge a pluralistic nation and his conservative Islamic beliefs.

A Punjab governor was killed by his personal guard in 2011 after he defended a Christian lady, Asia Bibi, who was accused of blasphemy. She was acquitted after spending eight years on demise row in a case that drew worldwide media consideration. Faced with demise threats from Islamic extremists upon her launch, she flew to Canada to affix her daughters final yr.