After the shocking incident of Tahir Naseem, a US citizen, who was accused of blasphemy, was shot dead inside a courtroom in Pakistan during his trial, the US State Department has expressed outrage and shock at the killing of Naseem.
Naseem, 47, died on the spot after he was shot at six times inside Peshawar''s high-security Judicial Complex on Wednesday while he awaited to be shifted to prison. The attacker, Khalid, who reportedly screamed 'Enemy of Islam' before shooting, was arrested and the pistol used in the killing was seized.
The incident has thrown fresh impetus on the debate regarding the controversial blasphemy laws in Pakistan.
Reform "often-abused" blasphemy laws: US to Pakistan
The US has urged Islamabad to immediately reform its "often-abused" blasphemy laws and bring the culprit to justice.
In a press release issued by Cale Brown, Principal Deputy Spokesperson of the US State Department, which stated, "We are shocked, saddened, and outraged that American citizen Tahir Naseem was killed yesterday inside a Pakistani courtroom. Mr Naseem had been lured to Pakistan from his home in Illinois by individuals who then used Pakistan''s blasphemy laws to entrap him."
"We grieve with the family of Mr Naseem. We urge Pakistan to immediately reform its often-abused blasphemy laws and its court system, which allow such abuses to occur, and to ensure that the suspect is prosecuted to the full extent of the law," Brown said.
The US government has been providing consular assistance to 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, he said.
Who was Tahir Naseem and why was he under trail?
Naseem, an Ahmedia, was an American citizen who lived in the US before he was first arrested in April 2018 after a local accused him of blasphemy by one Awais Malik, a madrasa student from Peshawar. He had struck a conversation with Malik online when he was living in the US.
The BBC quoted Malik. who said that he met Naseem at a shopping mall and they discussed religion during which Naseem claimed that he was the "last prophet of Islam". After which a case was filed by Malik accusing Naseem of blasphemy.
According to the FIR, the prisoner was charged in February 2019 under sections 153 A, 295 B, and 295 C. The sections pertaining to the country's blasphemy law. The deceased had denied the charges and decided to stand trial.
Al Jazeera reported, no one has yet been sentenced to death under the Pakistan's controversial Blasphemy laws, at least 77 extrajudicial killings related to blasphemy laws have occurred in Pakistan since 1990.