AP Hides Truth About Death of Moderate Muslim Asad Shah in Scotland

Perhaps it would be understandable if U.S. media outlets chose not to cover the death of Asad Shah in Scotland. After all, it occurred overseas, and only one person has died.

But the Associated Press did decide to cover the story and post it at its subscribers' U.S. news sites. As such, the AP has a duty to reveal what is known at the time its reports appear. Thus far, it has failed miserably. It is painfully obvious why that failure has occurred, namely because Asad Shah's death inconveniently answers the following question: "Why don't we hear more outrage from moderate Muslims over those who invoke Islam to justify terrorism and persecution, thereby, according to popular perception, highjacking their supposedly inherently peaceful religion?"

AP's story appears to have been written to minimize reader interest and attention. The New York Times has the story online, but there's no indication that it made it into the Old Gray Lady's print edition.

The wire service also waited four paragraphs to identify Asad Shah's killer as a Muslim, leaving readers who didn't get that far to believe that he might have been murdered by a non-Muslim who for some reason didn't appreciate his peaceful Easter greeting (published in full because of its brevity, and for fair use and discussion purposes; bolds are mine):

Scottish Police Investigate Killing of Muslim Shopkeeper

Scottish police say the killing of a Muslim shopkeeper who wished Christians a happy Easter is being investigated as "religiously prejudiced."

Vigils were held Friday and Saturday in memory of 40-year-old Asad Shah, who was killed Thursday night in Glasgow.

He had apparently posted messages on Facebook calling for religious harmony: "Good Friday and very happy Easter, especially to my beloved Christian nation x!"

Police say a 32-year-old man has been arrested in connection with Shah's death. The suspect, who police say is Muslim, has not been identified or charged.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon joined the Friday vigil in support of Shah and his family in Glasgow. Many lit candles and left flowers. Roughly 150 people also gathered in a light rain on Saturday to honor him, an event organized by local teens.

Police Scotland said that "a full investigation is under way to establish the full circumstances surrounding the death which is being treated as religiously prejudiced."

Much more was known at the time of the AP's report (Saturday at 1:21 P.M. Eastern Time, i.e., Saturday evening London time).

"Apparently" is a word reserved for situation where something looks quite likely, but still may not be true. There's nothing "apparent" about the image of the Asad Shah's Facebook posting carried at the UK Daily Mail, which was published the previous day UK time, i.e., at least 24 hours before the AP story's time stamp:

AsadShahGoodwillMessage032416

Asad Shah's Facebook page is still present (image saved here for future reference).

The Daily Mail also has this quite relevant item about Asad Shah (as do other news sources here, here and here):

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.

He declared Muslim religion and society were in decline and claimed to have been chosen by Allah to reform Islam. The claim clashes with the Islamic belief that Mohammed was the last prophet and the Koran is the final word of God.

The Daily Mail, in a later story, is more definite about the matter of Asad Shah's faith: "Mr Shah’s family, originally from Pakistan, are members of the Ahmadiyya Islamic sect, which preaches ‘love for all, hatred for none’, but is seen as sacrilegious by orthodox Muslims." Family members now fear they will be Islamic murderers' next targets.

It's estimated that the Ahmadiyya population is "at least 10 to 20 million worldwide, thereby representing around 1% of the world's Muslim population."

The UK Daily Record, in a story which appeared after AP's report, quotes a source who says that "The hardline Sunni Muslims call Ahmadiyya Muslims kafir. They say they are non-believers."

87 percent to 90 percent of all Muslims, or about 1.5 billion people, are Sunnis. Additionally, "the majority of modern Muslim scholars continue to hold the traditional view that the death penalty for apostasy is required."

The Daily Record also reported that authorities believe that the killer "travelled from Bradford (i.e., over 200 miles — Ed.) to launch a premeditated attack." The killer was clearly on a mission to kill someone he believed was either a "non-believer" or "apostate."

If the original news of Asad Shah's death merited coverage, significant subsequent developments also deserve AP's attention.

Will they get any? Don't count on it. The evidence in this case thus far clearly supports the idea that genuinely moderate Muslims may in reality be very few in number, and that any public expressions of such moderation can be quite dangerous. We can't have people learning such disruptive and disturbing truths.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.