(Reuters) – Gunmen in eastern Pakistan shot dead a member of the Ahmadi religious minority on Saturday, an Ahmadi spokesman said, five days after a Muslim leader denounced Ahmadis on a popular Pakistani television talk show.
Luqman Ahad Shehzad was shot in the back of the head near Bhiri Shah Rehman village, a small community of Ahmadis in the Gujranwala district, said Saleem ud Din, the spokesman.
He is the eleventh person killed for being Ahmadi in Pakistan this year. Ahmadis consider themselves Muslim but believe that a prophet came after the Prophet Mohammed, who in Islam is revered as the last of God’s messengers.
In 1984, a Pakistani law declared them non-Muslims and made it possible to jail Ahmadis for “posing as a Muslim” or “offending a Muslim’s feelings”.
They are often denounced by Muslim leaders and targeted by violent extremists. Some clerics promise that killing Ahmadis earns the killer a place in heaven and distribute leaflets listing their home addresses.
On Monday, Muslim leader Syed Arif Shah Owaisi appeared on a popular morning television show hosted by Pakistani host Aamir Liaquat Hussain.
“This enemy is a common enemy and is an enemy of all of Pakistan. And this enemy is the sect of Qadiyani,” Owaisi said, using a derogatory term for Ahmadis. “They are the ones blaspheming against the holy prophet. All us Muslims should recognise that enemy.”
Blasphemy is punishable by death in Pakistan. Scores of people have been lynched after being accused of blasphemy.
Saturday’s killing was the second time Hussain’s show has hosted religious leaders denouncing Ahmadis. In 2008, he hosted scholars who called for the Ahmadis to be killed. Within a day, two prominent Ahmadis had been shot dead.
Hussain was not immediately available for comment.
(Reporting by Katharine Houreld and Mehreen Zahra-Malik; Editing by Maria Golovnina and Raissa Kasolowsky)