Tributes to Muslim shopkeeper killed in Glasgow

LONDON • Tributes have been paid to a British Muslim shopkeeper killed in what police described as a "religiously prejudiced" attack.

Mr Asad Shah, 40, died after being found with serious injuries outside his shop in the Scottish city of Glasgow last Thursday evening. He was a member of the minority Ahmadi Muslim community and was reportedly originally from Pakistan.

The day before his death, Mr Shah had posted a message on Facebook reading: "Good Friday and very happy Easter, especially to my beloved Christian nation x!"

Police arrested a 32-year-old man on Friday. A spokesman said: "A full investigation is under way to establish the full circumstances surrounding the death which is being treated as religiously prejudiced."

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community UK called it a "completely brutal, horrific and unjustified attack".

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon joined a vigil for Mr Shah outside his shop on Friday night, while locals gathered again on Saturday to pay tribute to a man they said was a pillar of the community.

One of the organisers, Eildon Dyer, told the BBC: "There were a lot of tears and lots and lots of flowers."

An online campaign has raised almost £55,000 (S$107,000) for his family, said Scotland's STV News.

Meanwhile, the imam at Scotland's largest mosque has been criticised for speaking in defence of a man executed for murdering a Pakistani politician.

The leader of Glasgow's Central Mosque, Maulana Habib ur Rehman, used the WhatsApp messaging service to praise Mumtaz Qadri, who was hanged in February for the murder of Punjab governor Salman Taseer, after Mr Taseer criticised Pakistan's strict blasphemy laws.

In Pakistan, fundamentalists hailed Qadri as a martyr while moderates called him an extremist.

In one message quoted by STV News, Imam Rehman claimed Qadri was acting on behalf of the majority of Muslims: "According to some he was a murderer, but to many others he did what was the collective responsibility of the ummat (community)."

In another, STV said he expressed sorrow: "I cannot hide my pain today. A true Muslim was punished for doing which the collective will of the nation failed to carry out."

He claims his comments were taken out of context, and that he was in fact criticising Pakistan's use of capital punishment.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 29, 2016, with the headline 'Tributes to Muslim shopkeeper killed in Glasgow'. Print Edition | Subscribe