Police officials in Pakistan have on Wednesday said a man accused of blasphemy for claiming that he was a prophet has been shot dead in a courtroom in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar.
47-year-old Tahir Ahmed Naseem, a member of the Ahmedi sect, which is persecuted in Pakistan where they have officially been declared non-Muslims had been in prison since his arrest in 2018, allegedly after claiming he was a prophet.
The shooting took place at a high-security complex next to the Peshawar high court.
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, criminalizing, among other things, “defiling the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad”. A highly inflammatory charge in deeply conservative Pakistan that has sparked mob lynchings, vigilante murders and mass protests.
A conviction sometimes carries the death penalty.
According to the The Guardian report, a lawyer who rushed to the site of the attack, Saeed Zaher said “I was sitting on my seat in the office around 11.30 when I heard the firing,” he added the victim appeared to have been shot once in the head. “The killer was caught by the police and the body was lying on a bench within the courtroom.”
Zaher added Members of the public are allowed to observe trials, but for his attacker to smuggle in a weapon represents a serious security breach. “A person entering with a pistol and murdering someone within a courtroom is very disturbing,”
Footage circulating on social media appeared to show the alleged killer, sitting barefoot on a bench under police guard, claiming he had been ordered in a dream to kill Naseem. He also attacked judges who hear blasphemy cases.
A senior police officer Mansur Amaan said authorities were investigating how the attacker managed to get his hands on a firearm inside a courtroom, he added “he might have pulled the gun out of a policeman’s holster.”
A spokesman for the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Ibn Abdur Rehman said “religious fanaticism is becoming unbearable in Pakistan. People are being killed in the name of religion. There is no check and balance. He said the government is clearly silent on this matter. This silence makes the government the culprit.”
UK Cuts Overseas Aid After Worst Recession In Over 300 Years
The British government is facing so much criticism over its decision to cut overseas aid and divert the funds to finance other spending priorities in the wake of what it described as the deepest recession in more than three centuries.
Treasury chief, Rishi Sunak, says the move is widely expected to free up at least five and a half billion dollars for the conservative government to use for other concerns.
Sunak says government needed to make tough choices at a time of unprecedented crisis.
He said the government aims to return to the target introduced by the labour government of Tony Blair around two decades ago, but that even with the new target, the U.K. Will still be the second biggest aid spender among the group of seven leading industrial nations.
Critics from inside the political spectrum indicate the decision goes against the government’s promise in last year’s general election to maintain the aid target.
Chief executive of the non-governmental organization, save the children, Kevin Watkins, says the NGO is deeply disappointed by the cut, and that, the UK had “broken a promise” to the world’s neediest people that could lead to “100,000 lives not saved by immunization.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury, leader of the world’s Anglican communion, Justin Welby, said the cut “is shameful and wrong,” and against the teaching of Jesus Christ.
Turkey Jails Hundreds For Life Over 2016 Failed Coup Attempt
A Turkish court has jailed for life, three hundred thirty-seven former pilots and other suspects over an unsuccessful plot to overthrow president Recep Tayyip Erdogan four years ago.
475 defendants were accused of carrying out the attempt to overthrow the government in 2016, from an airbase near the capital Ankara.
More than 250 persons were killed in the attempt as rogue soldiers commandeered warplanes, helicopters and tanks in a bid to take control of key state institutions.
Of the 337 life sentences given, 291 were aggravated life sentences, the most severe punishment in Turkish courts. This means there is no possibility of parole.
State news agency, Anadolu, and other sources, said at least 25 F-16 pilots were given aggravated life sentences.
Smaller Thanksgiving Gatherings Disrupt US Turkey Market
Today is Thanksgiving Day in the United States—a day when millions of families get together, share turkey meals and revel. And it is a day of the famous Macy’s parade. But it’s a smaller occasion this year as COVID-19 has put a damper on large celebrations.
The turkey industry in the country is seeing both a shortage of smaller turkeys and a surplus of the bigger ones as more Americans plan to hold smaller gatherings for Thanksgiving as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As Americans heed the advice of health authorities to hold smaller gatherings, they have had to downsize their turkeys from the usual thirty-pound birds.
A recent survey conducted by the American turkey and poultry company, butterball, found that three out of four of its respondents are opting for simpler, smaller dinners this year, which is in line with recommendations from the centers for disease control and prevention.
But that creates a problem for America’s turkey industry where at least forty million turkeys are usually consumed every Thanksgiving. The national turkey federation says most of the frozen turkeys one would find in the supermarkets now had gone into the field before the pandemic hit. Now, there is a huge backlog, especially of the big size birds that people are not buying because of reduction in crowd sizes.
Nonetheless, Americans say they will make the best of this thanksgiving day and pray that next year would be coronavirus-free. Then, life can return to normal.