Bradford Man Admits Murder of Shopkeeper
7 July 2016, 16:10
A Muslim taxi driver drove from Yorkshire to Glasgow and murdered a shopkeeper because he claimed he disrespected the Prophet Muhammad and his faith, a court has heard.
Asad Shah, 40, who ran a convenience store in the city's Shawlands area, died following the attack by 32-year-old Tanveer Ahmed on March 24 this year.
At the High Court in Glasgow, Ahmed, from Bradford in West Yorkshire, admitted murdering Mr Shah.
Mr Shah, an Ahmadi Muslim who moved from Pakistan to Glasgow in 1998, was discovered outside his shop on Minard Road with stab wounds and taken to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
The court was told that when Ahmed was interviewed under caution on March 25, he said his actions were motivated by Mr Shah's decision to "disrespect the Koran, the Prophet Muhammad, Allah and Faith''.
Advocate depute Iain McSporran said: "He said that he had warned Asad Shah that he was there to kill him, had asked him to stop claiming to be a prophet, but that he had insisted he was.''
In a later statement he claimed Mr Shah, who was a popular community figure, had ``disrespected the prophet of Islam, the messenger of Allah, Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.''
The statement added: "If I had not done this others would have and there would be more killings and violence in the world.
"I wish to make it clear that the incident was nothing at all to do with Christianity or any other religious beliefs. Even although I am a follower of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, I also love and respect Jesus Christ.''
Mr Shah had wished Christians a Happy Easter on social media hours before his death but the court heard this had no bearing on the crime.
CCTV footage of Mr Shah's murder from inside and outside the shop was shown to judge Lady Rae and could be seen by members of the public in the court room.
The judge was told Mr Shah's family wanted the footage to be shown but they were not in court because of fears for their own security and they did not want to see his killer.
In the footage, Ahmed is seen arriving at the shop at around 9pm, where Mr Shah was working with assistant Stephen McFadyen. His brother Athar, a personal assistant, was working in the basement below.
Mr McSporran told the court the pair conversed "intensely'' in Urdu.
"His demeanour and gestures are at least consistent with his account that he was attempting to persuade the shopkeeper to his point of view,'' he said.
"From what we can see of Mr Shah, he is responding but not apparently agreeing with the accused.
"The accused, having apparently not received the response he was looking for, reaches into the robes he is wearing and removes a knife with which he attacks Asad Shah, moving behind the counter to do so.
"Stephen McFadyen, who was working nearby in the shop, approaches and attempts to assist but the incident is fast moving and he is unable to prevent the attack, involving repeated stab wounds aimed at the head and upper body, continuing.''
Mr Shah can be seen attempting to flee outside, where the ``determined'' attack continues despite attempts from Mr McFadyen and Mr Shah's brother to intervene.
"Athar Shah makes a valiant but vain attempt to fend off the attacker, wielding an advertising sign as the only available weapon but without effect,'' Mr McSporran continued.
"Whilst the attack continued, with the accused kneeling on the victim, pinning him to the ground, Stephen McFadyen bravely reached for the knife and grabbed it from the accused, running across the road and placing it in bushes out of harm's way.
"The accused then began punching, kicking and stamping with full force on the prone body of Asad Shah, who was long past being in any position to defend himself.
``Many blows were delivered to his head and face, despite Athar's repeated pleas for him to stop.
``The attack ceased suddenly and the accused walked calmly to a bus shelter nearby where he sat, head bowed as if in prayer.''
A passing GP and nurse attempted to help Mr Shah, who was taken to hospital but died shortly before 10pm.
When police found Ahmed in the nearby bus shelter, he said: "I respect what you do and I have nothing against you and so I am not going to hurt you. I have broken the law and appreciate how you are treating me.''
Mr Shah was granted asylum when he fled violence in Pakistan to join his family in Scotland in 1998.
Ahmadis differ from the majority of Muslims in that they do not hold that Muhammad is the final Prophet, the court heard.
Evidence gathered showed Mr Shah had posted videos on Facebook and YouTube which could be seen as him claiming that he was a Prophet.
The court heard Ahmed was not motivated by malice towards Ahmadi Muslims as a group, but by his offence at Mr Shah's comments.
However, a victim statement from the shopkeeper's family - his wife, parents and six siblings - said they could no longer live normal lives and some intend to leave Scotland.
His parents said: "We brought our children to this country to seek refuge from Pakistan in 1991 fleeing persecution, religious hatred, discrimination and a danger to our lives because we were Ahmadis.
"We never thought that we could be in danger here.
"We feel imprisoned by our pain and suffering and we have little hope of ever having a normal life again.
"Most of the family, unable to live with this turmoil, pain and fear, has taken a decision to leave Scotland forever.''
Lady Rae told Ahmed, who will be sentenced on August 9: "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.''