Rashid Rehman, 53, took on the case of university lecturer Junaid Hafeez, when no other lawyer in the city of Multan would, because he believed in the universal human right to legal counsel, friends said.
Rehman continued defending Hafeez, accused of defaming the Prophet Mohammed on social media last year, despite receiving death threats from the prosecution itself.
On Wednesday evening, two gunmen posing as prospective clients burst into his office and opened fire. ‘He was shot five times and succumbed to his injuries on the way to hospital,’ The Mail said a policeman told Reuters.
Hafeez had been in prison without being able to find a lawyer until Rehman agreed to represent him in February.
Blasphemy carries the death penalty in Pakistan, but the accused are often lynched or languish for years in jail without trial because lawyers are too afraid to defend them. Rights groups say the laws are increasingly used to seize money or property.
Judges have previously been attacked in Pakistan for acquitting blasphemy defendants and two politicians who discussed reforming the law were shot dead.
On Thursday morning, The Mail reported, an unsigned pamphlet was distributed in Multan saying Rehman met his ‘rightful end’ for trying to ‘save someone who disrespected the Prophet Mohammed.’
‘We warn all lawyers to be afraid of god and think twice before engaging in such acts,’ the pamphlet said.
Sources: Assist News Service, The Mail Online, Reuters
- Pray the authorities will concentrate their efforts in bringing the perpetrators to justice. Ask the Lord to use Rashid’s courage as a legacy to encourage other brave individuals to take a stand for justice.
- Pray Rashid’s family may be comforted by the love and mercy of Christ and the fellowship of believers.
- Commit to the Lord Junaid Hafeez and all those facing blasphemy charges in Pakistan.