A U.S. citizen, Tahir converted from Ahmadi to Sunni Islam, claiming to be a prophet. Lured into visiting Pakistan, he was charged with blasphemy and murdered at court. His murder was celebrated by thousands at a rally.
Tahir Ahmed Naseem was a 57-year-old Pakistani-American man living in Chicago and working as a school bus driver. In 2018, he took a trip back to Pakistan where he was promptly arrested under that country’s blasphemy law. Although he was a United States citizen, the U.S. government did not have the power to stop his arrest or trial. Whether he may have eventually been freed of the burden with which he was saddled, none can know; in July 2020, while Tahir was in court, a 17-year-old boy shot and killed him, by his own admission having been visited in a dream by the Prophet Muhammad and given the explicit command to do so.
Tahir had always been a member of the Ahmadiyya sect, a persecuted minority who are not legally considered Muslims in Pakistan. By some accounts, he had renounced that affiliation and embraced Sunni Islam, whereas the cleric who allegedly oversaw his conversion claims he did so insincerely.
Tahir had allegedly proclaimed himself a prophet, a claim blasphemous to any Muslim. Even after apparently converting to Sunni Islam and returning to the U.S., he supposedly continued to do so, which spurred a follower of an anti-Ahmadiyya movement in contact with Tahir to coax him back to Pakistan on the pretense of discussion and debate, laying a trap so that he could face charges for blaspheming against Islam.
"All over Twitter and social media, I've been seeing, like, the police take selfies with him, the killer. And these are the same police that are supposed to be protecting the citizens over there, but they're making a mockery out of my dad's murder." - Mashal Naseem, Tahir's daughter
Tahir was treated as a criminal and made to stand trial. Soon after, the 17-year-old (sometimes reported as 15—accounts differ), Faisal Khan, took the opportunity to exact vigilante justice for Tahir’s speech crimes. Many religious fundamentalists took to the streets and to social media after the fact to praise the killer’s righteousness.
After the killing, Tahir's daughter, Mashal, started an online petition calling on the United Nations and the United States Department of State to push for an end to Pakistan's blasphemy laws, for which she was subjected to death threats. She has also said that she would like to see Khan extradited to the U.S., as her father was a U.S. citizen and there were some signs the killer's trial would not be impartial. These signs included selfies that surfaced on social media taken by police, showing Khan smiling along with them. Other selfies have also surfaced, such as one depicting a crowd, including some lawyers, escorting Khan into court as he smiled.
"It's one of those cases where everyone wants to be his lawyer." - Inamullah Yusufzai, the killer's lawyer
Meanwhile, Khan has successfully petitioned to be tried a juvenile. “Delegations of well-wishers” which include “lawyers, clerics, [and] local politicians” have visited his family in the aftermath of the attack to extend their congratulations, according to Reuters. The killer's lawyer says lawyers from across Pakistan had offered to defend him for free, as they see the killing as justified retribution against a blasphemer.
Her American father was shot in a blasphemy trial in Pakistan. Now she’s fighting for justice. - Religion News Service
Man Killed in Pakistani Court on Blasphemy Charges Was US Citizen - Voice of America
Pakistani who killed American in court says he was given gun - Washington Post
Killing of Tahir Naseem - U.S. Department of State
Pakistan is one of the most repressive countries in the world with regard to freedom of expression, including and especially religious freedom. Blasphemy (i.e. insults) against religion in general can result in imprisonment, while blasphemy against Islam carries the much harsher punishment of death. Both in terms of the aggressiveness with which the Islamic-conservative government prosecutes such cases, as well as the harshness of punishment, Pakistan remains one of the worst places on the planet to speak out against religion or religious fundamentalism.