English

Pakistan: Muslims hail UK jihad murderer of “blasphemer” as hero

“On Monday evening, about 400 gathered outside his family’s home in the city of Mirpur, in Pakistan-administered Kashmir for a rally in his honour. The crowd chanted slogans praising Ahmed as ‘brave’ and ‘courageous.’”

Only 400. A tiny minority of extremists, right? But where have there ever been 400 Muslims marching against the death penalty for blasphemy, or for the freedom speech or freedom of conscience.

Note also how the jihad killer is being coddled in the British prison, from which he has been able to release audio messages. No doubt British authorities don’t want to do anything that might appear “Islamophobic.”

“Murderer Tanveer Ahmed inspires Pakistani hardliners from Scottish jail,” by Secunder Kermani and Sajid Iqbal, BBC News, March 1, 2017:

When Tanveer Ahmed was sentenced to a minimum of 27 years in jail for murder last August, Judge Lady Rae said he had committed a “brutal, barbaric and horrific crime”.

Ahmed stabbed to death Glasgow shopkeeper Asad Shah – who belonged to the persecuted Ahmadi sect – because he believed he was committing blasphemy by uploading online videos in which he claimed to be a prophet.

But in Pakistan, Ahmed is developing a growing number of supporters who see him as a “defender of Islam” for having killed someone they believed to be disrespecting the Prophet Muhammad.

On Monday evening, about 400 gathered outside his family’s home in the city of Mirpur, in Pakistan-administered Kashmir for a rally in his honour. The crowd chanted slogans praising Ahmed as “brave” and “courageous”.One man attending said: “Because of what he did, the whole of Pakistan knows who he is.”

Another speaker told supporters Ahmed could help mediate their prayers.

“You should close your eyes, raise your hand towards the sky and pray, making Ghazi [warrior] Tanveer your representative,” he said.

The event was organised by the anti-blasphemy religious lobby group Labaik Ya Rasool Ullah (Here I am present, o Prophet of Allah).

The same group has championed another killer – Mumtaz Qadri – who in 2011 shot dead a high profile Pakistani politician for trying to reform the country’s blasphemy laws.

Blasphemy is an emotive issue in Pakistan, where it is legally punishable by death.

After Qadri was executed last year, tens of thousands of his supporters attended his funeral, and a shrine housing his tomb has been built in Rawalpindi.

Hardline cleric Khadim Rizvi is one of the leading figures in Labaik Ya Rasool Ullah, and is the most prominent supporter of Tanveer Ahmed.

As well as images of Mumtaz Qadri, Rizvi now uses images of Ahmed to promote his rallies and talks.

Ahmed had cited Qadri as his inspiration for killing his victim, and their supporters often compare the two killers.

In a BBC interview Rizvi said support for Ahmed was not as widespread as that for Qadri – but that Ahmed was held in particularly high esteem for having killed someone accused of blasphemy in a non-Muslim country.

Over the past few months a Facebook page run by Rizvi’s followers has released a number of audio messages from Ahmed whilst in jail. The messages included Ahmed justifying his own actions – and repeating slogans that “the penalty for blasphemers is for their heads to be cut off”.

Rizvi was prevented from attending the rally in Mirpur by police, but I met him earlier this month after another rally.

He said that until recently he would talk to Tanveer Ahmed on the phone “every couple of weeks”, and that he was proud of his friendship with him.

“I’m proud of the fact that we are in contact – and this pride will remain until the day of judgement and beyond.”

Rizvi added that his conversations with Ahmed included discussions on the topic of blasphemy, and chants in support of the Prophet Muhammad.

After a BBC report in January 2017 on Ahmed’s audio messages from jail, the Scottish Prison Service banned him from using the phone.

Rizvi said since the ban he had not spoken to Ahmed – but was confident they would resume contact.

“God willing it won’t change anything – phonecalls have been banned – letters haven’t – he will write to us.”…

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