Tahir Ahmad Naseem, left, and his daughter Mashal Naseem in an undated photo.
Her American father was shot in a blasphemy trial in Pakistan. Now she’s fighting for justice
Mashal Naseem thought she knew pain two years ago, the day she received the news her father had been imprisoned on blasphemy charges after being lured to Pakistan, where such crimes of conscience have landed people on death row. But late last month, she understood what true agony felt like. On July 29, her father, 57-year-old Tahir Ahmad Naseem, was killed in cold blood — in the very courtroom where he was being tried for claiming to be a prophet.“I want people to know he had a family,” said his daughter, a 20-year-old student. She and her mother, sister and brother all live in the suburbs of Chicago.
“He was somebody’s father, somebody’s uncle, somebody’s husband. He had the biggest heart I’ve ever seen. He was the kind of person I’ll probably never see again.”
These days, she finds herself dissociating, getting lost in memories of walking with her father in nature reserves until her feet gave out, discussing philosophy and God. She writes letters to him, plans for the funeral service her family hopes to hold soon — and prays no family faces this torment again.
“What’s frustrating is that this happened to an American citizen, someone who was supposed to be protected by America,” she told Religion News Service. Since her family’s ordeal began, she said, it has felt like they’ve been pushing for justice alone.
Now, she is fighting for the U.S. government to deliver justice for her father, whether by extraditing his confessed killer to the U.S for trial or issuing a forceful call for Pakistan to undo its blasphemy laws.
“He could claim to be God himself, and he still had the right to say what he wanted,” his daughter told RNS. “Does that mean that I’m going to agree with him? No, of course not. But still, I am going to support his freedom of speech and freedom of religion, just as I’ll support anybody.”
Contrary to media reports, his daughter said, Naseem was not schizophrenic and had not been diagnosed with any mental illness. After his mother died when he was a teen, he had been hospitalized several times due to severe depressive episodes.
“Pakistani blasphemy laws are draconian, but it’s no longer just the laws,” Ispahani said. “From the school curriculum to political and media discussions, religious intolerance has seeped into the very fabric of society in Pakistan today.”
The biggest target of this state-led discrimination and extrajudicial violence has been Pakistan’s beleaguered Ahmadi community.
In Pakistan, a constitutional amendment declares Ahmadis as legally non-Muslim. To “pose as Muslims” by referring to their mosques as mosques, voting as Muslims or referencing Islam on their gravestones is illegal; mobs, if not police themselves, often destroy gravestones with any Islamic prayers.
Since Naseem’s killing, at least three Ahmadi men across the country have been attacked, including a 61-year-old man who was shot dead last week in Peshawar.
That is Mashal Naseem today.... ..I hope Mashal Stay strong.. stays focused on her life
Rogues of corrupted the book.. corrupted the laws in the name of Islam and then they kill people in a cold blooded with some FUCKING LAWS...