A newsagent was murdered by a fellow Muslim after he wished his Christian friends a peaceful Easter.
Asad Shah, who was stabbed up to 30 times at his shop, had praised both the life of Jesus and ‘his beloved Christian nation’. Left lying in a pool of blood, the 40-year-old died in hospital.
Police, who were questioning a 32-year-old suspect last night, said the killing was religiously motivated.
Mohammad Faisal, a family friend, said a bearded Muslim wearing a long religious robe entered Mr Shah’s shop and spoke to him in his native language before stabbing him in the head with a kitchen knife.
Mr Shah’s brother, who was working next door, rushed out to find the killer laughing while sitting on the Glasgow newsagent’s bleeding chest.
‘The brother dragged Mr Shah away but the guy continued attacking with the blade,’ said Mr Faisal. ‘They struggled up to the bus stop where Asad collapsed.
‘It was just a clear-cut revenge attack. For posting messages about peace, messages about greeting fellow Christians and Jews.
‘That man must not have been too happy about what he was doing, what he was preaching. It was a well-planned attack. He must have been an extremist.
‘He went straight for the head. He got stomped on the head as well. His brother suffered a slash down his shoulder area because he attacked him with a knife as well.’
Before his death, Mr Shah had wished his friends a ‘Good Friday and a very happy Easter, especially to my beloved Christian nation’.
In his final post, he wrote: ‘Let’s follow the real footstep of beloved holy Jesus Christ and get the real success in both worlds.’
Mr Shah also appeared to use his Facebook page to speak out over the attacks in Brussels.
In a video posted online he said: ‘We are not here to fight with other mankind or cause bloodshed.’
Hundreds of people have gathered for a silent vigil late on Friday night to honour the respected shopkeeper near the site where he died.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon joined an estimated crowd of 400 to 500 people for the vigil to show solidarity and remember Mr Shah.
Ms Sturgeon, whose constituency covers the area, tweeted afterwards: ‘Moved to be one of hundreds tonight as Shawlands united in grief for Asad Shah and support for his family.’
Those attending were encouraged to bring a daffodil. Many laid flowers and lit candles during the gathering.
One of the vigil organisers, Eildon Dyer, said: ‘It was very respectful. There were a lot of people clearly very upset. There were a lot of tears and lots and lots of flowers.
‘Everybody has said he was the nicest man. He was clearly much-loved. Everybody had nice stories to tell about him and warm stories. It’s just very, very sad.’
Thousands from across the country also paid their respects to Mr Shah to comment on his bravery and dedication to cross-faith living, with many using the hashtag #thisisnotwhoweare.
Deeply religious, Mr Shah worked to foster cross-community relations in Glasgow and had been planning to host an online debate last night with Christian friends about the importance of Easter. Friends said he observed both Christian and Muslim holidays, and never failed to send out Easter and Christmas cards. And he used his social media accounts to promote harmony on religious holidays.
In previous online posts, he has spoken out eloquently against violence and hatred and called for ‘unconditional real love for all mankind’.
Last Christmas Day, he posted: ‘Merry Christmas to all my beloved Christian nation and to all beloved mankind with best wishes.’ More than 300 mourners gathered at a vigil last night to pay their respects to Mr Shah.
‘This is disgusting – Mr Shah was the most peace-loving man you could meet,’ said a neighbour.
‘He was proud of his Pakistani heritage but he loved Britain. He loved Scotland too and really wanted to reach out to Christians. This is such a terrible thing to happen.’
Julie MacRae, a friend of the shopkeeper, said: ‘I’m shocked because he was so lovely. He’s been great to my family. Every year he would send out lovely Christmas cards with messages of peace.’
One of many floral tributes left at the scene read: ‘All you wanted was peace. We are one.’
Robert Maitland, who runs a club for former servicemen next door to Mr Shah’s shop, said: ‘He always had a friendly hand for you. Every Christmas he gave us a Christmas card, although he was a Muslim and it wasn’t his religion. That’s what he was like.’
Speaking at the vigil, first minister Nicola Sturgeon said: ‘This community is in shock and devastated. Mr Shah was a popular local businessman. I’ve used his shop and known him in the years past. I just think everyone is struggling to come to terms with it.
‘But this vigil has been an important way for the community to come together and show support to his family and more than anything to show that the community is strongly united.’
An ambulance crew gave Mr Shah treatment at the scene on Thursday night. He was taken to Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital where he later died.
It is believed he belonged to the Ahmadi movement, a Muslim sect which promotes non-violence and tolerance of other faiths.
Ahmadis identify themselves as Muslims and a determined missionary network has helped spread their teachings around the world.
But their sect has won only disdain from mainstream Islamic leaders and it has been heavily persecuted in Pakistan.
As a result the Ahmadi community’s headquarters are now located in Morden, South London. The site, which covers five acres, has space for more than 10,000 worshippers and has been hit by arson.
The spiritual inspiration of the movement was Mirza Ghulam Ahmad who was born in the Punjab in British-ruled India in 1835.