Mulsim Leaders React To Murder Accused's Claim

An umbrella organisation representing Muslims in Scotland has said it is "deeply concerned'' by a statement made by a man accused of killing a Muslim shopkeeper.

Tanveer Ahmed, 32, from Bradford, West Yorkshire, appeared in court for the second time on Wednesday accused of murdering Ahmadi Muslim Asad Shah, 40, outside his convenience store in Glasgow's Shawlands area.

Ahmed made no plea when he appeared at Glasgow Sheriff Court for a full committal hearing in private but after the hearing he released a statement through his lawyer, John Rafferty.

The statement said "if I had not done this others would''.

It continued: "This all happened for one reason and no other issues and no other intentions.

"Asad Shah disrespected the messenger of Islam the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him. Mr Shah claimed to be a Prophet.''

The Muslim Council of Scotland said it is "deeply concerned'' by Ahmed's statement and added that it affirmed "the right of Ahmadis to their freedom of belief''.

The council has asked Imams across Scotland to use their sermons on Friday as a reminder of holding respect for all, regardless of belief.

The Crown Office said Ahmed was remanded in custody and is due to appear in court again at a date yet to be confirmed.

Mr Shah, who moved from Pakistan to Glasgow in 1998, was discovered outside his shop on Minard Road on Thursday March 24 and taken to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

In an earlier statement, his family said they had been left devastated by the loss of a ''brilliant man''.

Lawyer and activist Aamer Anwar, who chaired an interfaith conference in Glasgow last week calling for communities to unite against sectarianism, bigotry and extremism, said the "freedom to exercise religion is a fundamental human right''.

He added: "The fundamental problem is the deep-rooted hypocrisy and repeated failure by various so-called Islamic groups to vociferously condemn the systematic persecution against the Ahmadiyya community or others.

"If there is truly a respect for the right to life then it must be said unequivocally, there can be no ifs, no buts where the sanctity of life is concerned. The last thing anyone wants to see is the politics of sectarian hatred imported from Pakistan onto our streets.''

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