A 32-year-old man from Bradford has admitted killing a Glasgow shopkeep-er in a religiously motivated attack.
Tanveer Ahmed stabbed Asad Shah outside his shop in the Shawlands area on March 24. He later died in hospital.
The 40-year-old, who was an Ahmadiyya Muslim, was attacked after publishing hundreds of videos about his spiritual beliefs online.
Ahmed, pleading guilty to the murder at a hearing at the High Court in Glasgow last Thursday (7), said Shah had “disrespected” Islam. He has been remanded in custody and will be sentenced on August 9.
Judge Lady Rae said he would face a lengthy jail term. “This was a truly despicable crime; motivated, it seems, by your sense of offence at a man’s expression of his religious beliefs, which differ from yours. Let me be clear – there’s no justification whatsoever for what you did.”
The court heard Ahmed, a cab driver, was in Glasgow a couple of days before the murder with a friend who knew the victim and showed Ahmed Shah’s Facebook page. The shopkeeper had uploaded videos about his spiritual beliefs to Facebook and YouTube, most of which were filmed behind the counter of his shop. The court was told Shah had posted some which could be seen as him claiming that he was a prophet.
Prosecuter advocate deputy Iain McSporran said: “The accused’s consistent and repeated account as to his motivation for murdering Asad Shah was that Shah claimed to be a prophet, which so offended his feelings and faith that he had to kill him.”
Ahmed, a Sunni Muslim, returned to Bradford but drove to Glasgow on the day of the murder. On the journey, he watched online footage of Shah and said: “Listen to this guy, something needs to be done, it needs (to be) nipped in the bud.”
The killer arrived at the shop at about 9pm where Shah was working with an assistant, Stephen McFadyen. After walking around the shop, Ahmed approached the counter and began speaking to Shah.
He removed a knife after not “receiving the response he was looking for” and attacked his victim aiming for his head and upper body.
Shah suffered multiple broken bones and the base of his skull was fragmented in a way more commonly seen in victims of road traffic accidents. He was taken to hospital, but despite CPR and surgery could not be saved.
The prosecution explained the nature of the attack was such that “only death could possibly have been the intended outcome”.
Ahmed then calmly walked to a bus shelter and sat “head bowed as if in prayer” and made no attempt to escape. He told the police officers who found him: “I respect what you do and have nothing against you, so I am not going to hurt you. “I have broken the law and appreciate how you are treating me.” Shah was born in Rabwah, Pakistan, but moved to Scotland in 1998 after he and his family were persecuted for their faith. They were granted asylum by the UK. On the day Shah died, he posted a message on Facebook which read: “Good Friday and a very happy Easter, especially to my beloved Christian nation x.” However, McSporran stressed the post had no bearing on the crime.
After being arrested, Ahmed released a statement through his lawyer saying he had killed Shah as he had falsely claimed to be a prophet.