Man accused of blasphemy shot dead in courtroom of Pakistan’s Peshawar

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A man accused of blasphemy for claiming that he was a prophet has been shot dead in a courtroom in the Pakistani city of Peshawar, Al Jazeera reported.

According to the report Tahir Ahmad Naseem was shot six times during a hearing in his case at a district court on Wednesday, police official Ijaz Ahmed told Al Jazeera.

“The culprit accepts responsibility for killing him, and says that he killed him for having committed blasphemy,” said police official Ahmed. “[The suspect] has been arrested from the scene.”

Mr. Naseem had been in police custody since 2018 when he was accused of having committed blasphemy by claiming to be a prophet – a violation of Pakistan’s strict blasphemy laws that can carry the death penalty for certain offences.

Naseem was accused of having violated sections 295-A, 295-B and 295-C of the Pakistani penal code, which deal with blasphemy against Islam, criminalising, among other things, “defiling the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad”.

The last offence carries a mandatory death penalty.

Since 1990, at least 77 people have been killed in connection with the accusation, according to an Al Jazeera tally.

Those killed include people accused of blasphemy, their family members, and lawyers and judges who have acquitted people accused of the crime.

Others killed in recent years include singers, teachers deemed to be advocating “un-Islamic” practices, and members of the persecuted Ahmadi sect.

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