A Muslim man who killed a Muslim shop owner after the latter posted a message on Facebook professing love for Christians and and wishing them a happy Easter has defended his actions, saying the victim "disgraced" the prophet Muhammad.
As earlier reported by The Gospel Herald, 40-year-old Asad Shah, an Ahmadi Muslim, was stabbed to death outside of his store in Glasgow, Scotland just days before Easter.
Shortly before his murder, Shah, who was known as a devout, Pakistani-born Muslim, had posted a message on Facebook reading, "Good Friday and a very Happy Easter, especially to my beloved Christian nation. Let's follow the real footstep of beloved holy Jesus Christ ... and get the real success in both worlds."
Tanveer Ahmed, a 32-year-old taxi driver from Bradford, West Yorkshire, was arrested and charged with the murder. One eyewitness told a British news outlet that the victim's head was stomped on during the attack while the Daily Mail reported that he was stabbed in the head with a kitchen knife.
"There was a pool of blood on the ground. It was horrific," the witness told the Daily Record.
"A full investigation is under way to establish the full circumstances surrounding the death which is being treated as religiously prejudiced," said a police spokeswoman quoted by the Telegraph.
According to The Daily Record, after appearing at a second court hearing, Ahmed instructed his lawyer to read a public statement outside the court declaring that he killed Asad in order to protect the honor of Islam after Shah "disrespected" the prophet Muhammad.
"This all happened for one reason and no other issues and no other intentions," the statement explains. "Asad Shah disrespected the messenger of Islam the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. Mr. Shah claimed to be a Prophet."
However, Ahmed claimed in his statement that he also loves Jesus Christ and argued that the murder had nothing to do with religion.
"I wish to make it clear that the incident was nothing at all to do with Christianity or any other religious beliefs, even though I am a follower of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, I also love and respect Jesus Christ," the statement explains.
"It is mentioned in the Quran that there is no doubt in this book [that] no one has the right to disrespect the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him," Ahmed's statement continues. "If I had not done this, others would and there would have been more killing and violence in the world."
However, The Daily Mail notes that radical Muslims have established a since-deleted Facebook page applauding Ahmed for committing the murder. The page which amassed over 700 "likes," reportedly referred to Ahmed as "Ghazi," a title used to refer to warriors and champions.
In turn, Shah's Facebook page reveals numerous messages of hope and coexistence between the faiths. On Christmas Day, he posted this message to Christians, "MERRY CHRISTMAS WITH LOVE TO ALL BELOVED MY BELOVED CHRISTIAN NATION AND TO ALL BELOVED MANKIND WITH ALL THE BEST WISHES ."
Resident Isabella Graham told the BBC that Shah had once employed her daughter at his convenience shop and newsstand when she was younger.
"He was an amazing, wonderful man, he couldn't do enough for you," she said. "He wouldn't hurt anybody. Nobody in Shawlands would have a bad word to say about him. I can't believe he's gone."
A number of Shah's customers have set up an online crowdfunding page to help support his family. In two weeks, over $157,000 has been donated by over 5,600 people. Posts on the page describe Shah as a "popular, well-respected and much-loved" member of the community.