Pakistan: yet another blasphemy shooting

Pakistan: yet another blasphemy shooting

Just days after Muslim academic Muhammad Shakil Auj was shot dead in Pakistan for alleged blasphemy, we learn that a 70-year-old UK man, in jail for blasphemy, has been shot by a prison guard, and is in a critical condition.

Muhammad Asghar, who is from Edinburgh, was arrested in 2010 after writing letters to a number of people claiming to be a prophet

A court in Rawalpindi convicted him of blasphemy earlier this year.

The attack took place at 08:30 local time inside the Adiala Jail, Rawalpindi, where he was being held.

A Rawalpindi police official told BBC Urdu’s Shahzad Malik the gunman who shot the Scot is Mohammad Yousuf, a member of the Elite Force of police commandos.

He said Yousuf walked into Mr Asghar’s cell before shooting him. Prison security, who ran to the scene when they heard the gunshots, were said to have overpowered and disarmed Mr Yousuf.

At least one bullet was said to have hit him in the arm.

Asghar’s family and lawyers have said he has a history of mental illness and was sectioned under the mental health act in Edinburgh shortly before travelling to Pakistan.

British politicians and activists have been campaigning for his release, urging the Pakistani government to intervene in his case so he can be treated.

Adiala Jail is notorious for being overcrowded with poor conditions.


It is where the “celebrated” attacker of Governor Salman Taseer  – Mumtaz Qadri, the Punjab Police guard – is also in custody. Taseer, above, was shot by the guard because the governor expressed opposition to Pakistan’s infamous blasphemy law.

Asghar was convicted under the blasphemy law in 2010 and filed an appeal in the Lahore High Court in February 2014 against his sentence, but it has yet to be heard, appeals can take up to five years before they reach the court.

Asghar is now receiving treatment in hospital, but legal charity Reprieve – which is assisting him – remains “deeply concerned” about his security.

Maya Foa, director of the death penalty team at legal charity Reprieve said:

This appalling attack shows that the only way to ensure Mr Asghar’s safety is to have him returned home to Britain. The UK government must redouble its efforts on this front – and as a first step, must urgently ensure that he is moved today to a safe location in Pakistan, until he is well enough to travel.

Mr Asghar is a vulnerable, 70-year old man suffering from severe mental illness – a fact which has been consistently ignored by the Pakistani courts during his four year ordeal.

David Cameron said he was ‘deeply concerned’ about his case earlier this year – but now we must see concrete action to ensure his safety.

18 responses to “Pakistan: yet another blasphemy shooting”

  1. AgentCormac says:

    ‘Mr Asghar is a vulnerable, 70-year old man suffering from severe mental illness – a fact which has been consistently ignored by the Pakistani courts…’
    Could that be because these people have a form of mental illness themselves? It’s called religion.

    Elsewhere, it seems that members of that same form of lunacy have taken to sarcasm in a Twitter campaign which is, apparently, aimed at countering ‘…a wave of hostility towards Islam’.

    Tweets such as ‘I’m tired of seeing Muslims rip themselves apart in apologies to prove their humanity to Islamophobes…’ and ‘Sorry for Algebra, cameras, universities, hospitals, oh and coffee too..’ as well as ‘I’m so sorry for coffee, cheques, parachutes, chemistry, inoculations, soap, shampoo, cameras…’ and ‘I’m sorry it was a Muslim woman, Fatima Muhammad Al-Fihri, that established the world’s first university…’ all set the tone. And there’s me thinking these things were invented or discovered by human beings who happened to be muslims, not the other way around.

  2. Broga says:

    I suppose if you believe in the absurdities of religion and you cannot defend them in discussion then killing anyone who disagrees is all you have left. Islamists seem especially prone to this. Although if you flip back a few hundred years Christians were also ready to torture and burn alive.

  3. Barry Duke says:

    AgentCormac, when I posted the report of the assassination of Auj on the Freethinker Facebook page, someone called Oumeima Bou reacted thus:

    Oh whatever… You are posting this as if you care pfff propaganda.

    My response: So Oumeima Bou, your reaction to a man’s murder is “whatever”. You are one sick puppy!

    Her reponse: Puppy? You are the sick one by linking this murder directly to islam. You basically need to educate yourself more before posting what ever garbage ypu do. and stop just building “news” based on a stupid assumption of yours… Dog! Tfo 3la ommek . As if you really care about that murdered man… I bet you just posted that article to offend and attack islam…

    Her FB page says she’s a member of Amnesty International, Tunisia. WTF!?

  4. Matt Westwood says:

    This is the sort of thing that makes me *really* angry.

    If he’s imprisoned for “blasphemy” (Piss be upon you, Mohammed, fuck you Allah, come and get me you fucking pricks), and is shot by a man who is inspired by religious fucknuttery, then yes, this murder *is* directly related to Islam.

    As for Oumeima Bou, you are a disgrace to the organisation of which you are a member. Damn your religion, damn your philosophy, damn you.

  5. L.Long says:

    If they keep this up the muslins wont have to worry about uppity smart people making a fuss, they will all be dead.

  6. Robster says:

    Another prophet? Does the world need another? I’d say no. Already there are lots of strange, deluded people both now and in times gone wandering around, claiming to be a prophet(s) of some sort and then go on to cause half the problems with all the made up religious nonsense. Funny thing too, all these so called prophets are self declared. If there was a For Prophet agency of some sort that could, with some sort of assumed authority, could declare the real as opposed to phake prophets, it would clean up the industry. The government or that funny old archbishop fellow in London or that Argentinian bloke with the funny hat in the vatican could chair the prophet authority and give it some much needed gravitas.All those applying to be declared a prophet would have to sit a simple online test, whip out a couple of confirmable miracles and bingo! Instant, added prophet. It can’t be that hard and the followers of the declared official prophets could get the warm and fuzzies in the secure knowledge that their favourite prophet is recognised by both that pope and archbishop fellows and could perhaps just maybe claim a tax exemption.

  7. AgentCormac says:

    ‘As for Oumeima Bou, you are a disgrace to the organisation of which you are a member.’

    Hear, hear.

  8. Toto says:

    Want to bump off a muslim…..then just accuse that person of blasphemy …..then some pious jihadist loon with a firearm will do your will. Easy.

  9. Matt Westwood says:

    Oumeima Bou — that’s blasphemy!

  10. zombiehunter says:

    All foreign aid to Pakistan should be cancelled and they can ask Allah for cash from here on.

    And if they decide to come into the 21st century and stop jailing people for blasphemy and stop having and blasphemy law altogether and while they’re at it stop shooting little girls for wanting an education may be then withdrawal of foreign aid can be reconsidered.

  11. Paul Cook says:

    The first university was in India – nothing to do with Muslim women.
    If what she says was even remotely true – Ask her how women’s education fares today in many Islamic countries. I for one would like to read that answer.
    Or even men’s education that doesn’t involve rote learning a book of which at least 20% is incomprehensible and written in the first and third person.

  12. barriejohn says:

    I believe the university at Fes qualifies as the oldest CONTINUOUSLY OPERATING degree-awarding institution in the world, though what its foundation in the Ninth Century has to do with things today I don’t quite understand. Still, it’s very encouraging to learn that ISIL will be setting up educational institutions throughout their brand new caliphate, and ensuring that women and girls in particular receive a broad-based education. Let’s wish them every success.

  13. Stephen Turner says:

    And walking armed into the prison cell of a sick 70-year-old to shoot him. Now that takes real courage!

  14. Paul Cook says:

    I think that was what was being referred to. However,in my humble opinion, a mosque which had a madrasa attached to it and which about a thousand years later was renamed or called a university is not a university – it’s still a mosque.

  15. Stephen Turner says:

    For anyone who doesn’t look at barriejohn’s link about that university: it’s men-only, and mostly specializes in Islamic religious and legal sciences. Very useful, I’m sure!

  16. barriejohn says:

    It’s pretty clear to me that it was never a university as we would recognize one, but others seem to disagree!

    Historians of the university, encyclopedias and dictionaries of the Middle Ages consider that the university (from Latin universitas) was an institution unique to Christian Europe, that the first universities were all located in Western Europe with Paris and Bologna often cited as the earliest examples.

    These sources therefore consider that al-Qarawiyyin was founded and run as a madrasah or a mosque school until after World War II. They consider institutions like al-Qarawiyyin to be higher schools of Islamic law where other subjects were only of secondary importance. They also consider that the University was only adopted outside the West, including into the Islamic world, in the course of modernization programmes since the beginning of the 19th century. They date the transformation of the madrasa of Al-Qarawiyyin into a university to its modern reorganization in 1963. In the wake of these reforms, al-Qarawiyyin was officially renamed “University of al-Qarawiyyin” two years later.

    In contrast according to UNESCO and a number of other sources, al-Qarawiyyin is considered to have been a university since its founding and therefore that it is the oldest university in the world. According to Yahya Pallavicini, the university model did not spread in Europe until the 12th century, and was found throughout the Muslim world from the founding of al-Qarawiyyin in the 9th century until at least European colonialism.

  17. Paul Cook says:


    I got my info from a QI book.
    Quite reliable !

    And very funny.

  18. barriejohn says:

    Paul Cook: I hope the Ven Stephen Fry wasn’t snorting coke when he wrote that bit!

    (One of my favourite programmes.)