A British-Pakistani man has admitted to the killing of a popular shopkeeper – also a British Pakistani – in Glasgow.
Tanveer Ahmed, a 32-year-old taxi driver from Bradford, appeared at Glasgow Sheriff Court this afternoon accused of the murder of Asad Shah, 40.
Mr Shah, owner of the Shah’s newsagents in the Shawlands area of Glasgow and a much-loved member of the community, was stabbed to death outside the store a day before Good Friday.
Police described the killing as a “religiously prejudiced”.
Today, Ahmed read a statement to the court through his lawyer John Rafferty and claimed that he had targeted Mr Shah because he “claimed to be a prophet”.
Mr Shah belongs to the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, a moderate branch of Islam whose members have been routinely targeted by hardliners in Mr Shah’s native Pakistan.
Ahmed’s statement read: “Asad Shah disrespected the messenger of Islam the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him. Mr Shah claimed to be a prophet. When 1400 years ago the Prophet of Islam Muhammad peace be upon him has clearly said that “I am the final messenger of Allah there is no more prophets or messengers from God Allah after me.
“I am leaving you the final Quran. There is no changes. It is the final book of Allah and this is the final completion of Islam. There is no more changes to it and no one has the right to claim to be a prophet or to change the Quran or change Islam.
“It is mentioned in the Quran that there is no doubt in this book no one has the right to disrespect the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him and no one has the right to disrespect the Prophet of Islam Muhammad Peace be upon him.
“If I had not done this others would and there would have been more killing and violence in the world.”
Ahmadi Muslims have been subject to various forms of persecution since the movement’s inception in the Punjab in 1889. Members are considered “non-Muslims” by mainstream Muslims as they consider Ahmadiyya founder Mira Ghulam Ahmad as the promised “Messiah” awaited by Muslims.
In a number of Islamic countries Ahmadis are considered heretics. In Pakistan, they are denied religious rights under the country’s constitution. The country has also witnessed a number of organized massacres of Ahmadiyya Muslims.
Mr Shah’s killing came a day after he had taken to his Facebook page to wish members of his local community a happy Easter.
However, Ahmed made clear in his statement that that message had nothing to do with the killing.
The statement reads: “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 the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him I also love and respect Jesus Christ.”
Despite the statement, Ahmed refused to make a plea and was remanded in custody to appear at the High Court later this year.
Mr Shah is believed to have been stabbed up to 30 times with a kitchen knife and his was head was stamped on in the attack. His killing is believed to be the first targeted attack of a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community in the UK.
His death caused widespread grief within the community. Hundreds – including Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon – attended two silent memorials held outside his store in the days after his killing.
A fundraising page on GoFundMe has raised more than £110, 000 for Mr Shah’s family.