Asad Shah, was stabbed to death in his shop in what is feared to have been a sectarian attack against the peace-loving branch of Islam he followed. Vigils were held Friday and Saturday in memory of the 40-year-old.
Shah’s family moved to Glasgow in the late 1990s and opened the shop in the Shawlands area of Glasgow. He believed in the minority Ahmadiyya sect of Islam and was originally from the Pakistani city of Rabwah, which is the center of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Pakistan. Only hours before his death on Thursday night Asad Shah had wished Christians a happy Easter in a Facebook post, and he had previously appeared to speak out against violence.
Asad Shah was found with serious injuries infant of his shop on Minard Road, Glasgow at around 9.05pm on Thursday night. He was taken to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival. Scottish Police say a 32-year-old man has been arrested in connection with Shah’s death. The suspect, who police say is Muslim, has not been identified or charged.
A flood of tributes have been paid to Asad who was much loved by the local community. His neighborhood residents described hims as a gentle man who cared deeply for his community and every year would print out his own Christmas cards with personal messages for customers. A GoFundMe appeal set up to support his wife has so far raised more than £54,000 ($76,000).
Crowd of 400 to 500 people gathered for a silent vigil late on Friday night to honour the respected shopkeeper near the site where he died. Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon joined the Friday vigil in support of Shah and his family in Glasgow. Many lit candles and left flowers.
Around 200 people gathered on Saturday for a second vigil to pay their respects to the 40-year-old, as floral tributes continued to be laid close to where he was found.
Following the revelation, Humza Yousaf, the Scottish government’s only Muslim minister, immediately responded in a tweet: “No ifs, no buts, no living in denial – vile cancer of sectarianism needs stamped out wherever it exists – including amongst Muslims.”
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson added: “In the hours since his death, it’s already become clear just how loved and respected Mr Shah was. A palpably good man has died for no reason.
“All we can do is offer our deepest condolences to his family and mourn his loss.”
Mohammad Faisal, a family friend, said a bearded Muslim wearing a long religious robe entered Mr Shah’s shop and spoke to him in his native language before stabbing him in the head with a kitchen knife.It is suspected that Shah was killed by another Muslim man because he was an Ahmadiyya Muslim. His murder is believed to be the first major anti-Ahmadi incident in the UK, and has sparked fears Islamic sectarianism has spread to Britain.Ahmadis are considered heretics by many Sunni Muslims, and are viciously persecuted in Pakistan.
KhatmeNabuwat, an anti-Ahmadi group which is active in Ahmadiyya persecution in Pakistan, also has offices in London from where the group organises conferences that spread hate-speech against the Ahmadis in Britain; a popular Facebook group linked to the Pakistani branch of KhatmeNabuwat sent out a message of “congratulations” on news of Shah’s death.
In recent weeks, several British imams in Glasgow and Bradford openly praised Mumtaz Qadri, who murdered a Pakistani governor for campaigning against the country’s vicious blasphemy laws (used primarily to persecute and even kill religious minorities including Christians, Hindus, Sikhs and Ahmadis in Pakistan).
Last month a group of Muslims in Scunthorpe protested against an Ahmadi mosque being built, and there have been reports of similar incidents elsewhere around the country. In 2010, The Independent reported of hard line Muslims in west London calling for Ahmadis to be killed. In Tooting, mainstream Sunni preachers were found to have urged follower to boycotts Ahmadi businesses. About 30,000 of Britain’s roughly three million Muslims belong to the Ahmadiyya sect.
Fareed Ahmad, National Secretary for External Affairs at Ahmadiyya Muslim Community UK, described the killing as “completely brutal, horrific and unjustified”.
“Such murders are a cause of extreme grief and sadness and our prayers are with the victim and his family,” he said.
Ahmad also issued a plea to authorities to protect the Ahmadiyya community.
“In any society, all members of the public have a right to safety and it is up to the government and police to protect members of the public as best they can. It is up to the government to root out all forms of extremism and the Ahmadiyya Muslim community has been speaking about the importance of this for many years.”
Mian A Wahab Mahmood, a senior figure at the Baitur Rahman mosque where Glasgow’s 400 Ahmadiyya Muslims worship, urged the community to wait to draw its conclusions until the police have completed their investigations.
Referring to the persecution faced by the community in Pakistan, he added: “When this happens in Pakistan it is very different because the authorities are not in our favour. But in this country our safety and security is with the police and the investigation is in good hands.”
A funeral for Shah is likely to be held at Bait-ur-Rahman Mosque when the body is released by the authorities.
A source at the mosque said: “Obviously the body has not been released by police – it’s an ongoing enquiry and there will be a post mortem – but when that happens there will be a funeral here.”
Asad Shah is expected to be laid to rest in a specific area of a Glasgow south side cemetery set aside for Ahmadiyya Muslims.