CNA Staff, Jul 31, 2020 / 14:13 pm
A U.S. citizen on trial for blasphemy in Pakistan was killed at a court hearing Wednesday, drawing strong objections to the country’s blasphemy laws from the U.S. State Department.
Tahir Ahmad Naseem was charged with claiming to be a prophet. He was being escorted by police in a courtroom in Peshawar, more than 100 miles west of Islamabad, when he was attacked and killed July 29.
Video shared on social media showed his body slumped over the seats in court, BBC News reports.
His attacker was arrested at the scene, and video shows him handcuffed and accusing Naseem of being “an enemy of Islam.”
Police are unsure how the attacker, named only as Khalid, acquired a gun in the courtroom. A police spokesman said he may have pulled the gun from a policeman's holster, Agence France Prese reports.
The U.S. State Department said it was “shocked, saddened and outraged” by the killing.
“The U.S. government has been providing consular assistance to Mr. Naseem and his family since his detention in 2018 and has called the attention of senior Pakistani officials to his case to prevent the type of shameful tragedy that eventually occurred,” said State Department spokesman Cale Brown.
The State Department said he had been lured to Pakistan from Illinois.