Pakistani Shiite and human rights campaigner Khurram Zaki was murdered by unknown assailants in Karachi on Saturday night. He was the editor of the website and Facebook group “Let Us Build Pakistan” which claims it fought to “spread liberal religious views and condemned extremism in all forms."
“In boldly highlighting and supporting the rights of Sunni Barelvis, Shias, Sufis, Ahmadis, Hindus and Christians” they wrote of Zaki, “his contribution as citizen journalism was much bigger than all journalists combined in Pakistan. His death is the grim reminder that whoever raises voice against Taliban, ASWJ/LeJ and Jamaat-e-Islami Deobandi mafia in Pakistan will not be spared. And when they have to murder, they never fail.”
“In keeping with the legacy of Shaheed Khurram Zaki, LUBP will not bow down to Takfiri Deobandi terrorism” the group thundered. “We will continue to work for greater Sunni-Shia unity and support all operations against the TTP, ASWJ/LeJ and other terrorists. We will continue to highlight and condemn Shia genocide and target killings of Sunni Sufis, Christians and other communities in Pakistan at the hands of Deobandi militants.”
Prior to his murder Zaki was subjected to a year-long campaign of intimidation and hate led by a member of the Islamist group Jamaat e-Islami.
Zaki is not the first member of the Let Us Build Pakistan team to be murdered by extremists. Irfan Khudi Ali was killed in a bombing in Quetta in 2013, trying to help those injured in another bombing.
His death also was mourned online by Muslim human rights activists from around the world. Shireen Qudosi, editor of the Qudosi Chronicles wrote “Today we have one less person carrying the torch against religious extremism. I know I speak for the rest of our small community when I say I'm totally heartbroken.” Faisal Saeed al-Mutar, the founder of Movements.org wrote “RIP Mr. Zaki, the world will miss you.”
Zaki’s Facebook cover photo carried the quote “Stand for what is right, even if it means standing alone.”
Zaki was not the only activist killed this weekend in South Asia. Mohammad Shahidullah, a local sufi leader, was hacked to death of Saturday in Bangladesh. Police suspect that militants connected to the Islamic State carried out the attack.
He was found in a pool of his own blood in a mango grove.
“In the past five weeks, two gay activists, a liberal professor, an atheist activist and a Hindu tailor who allegedly made derogatory remarks about the Prophet Muhammad were hacked to death by suspected Islamist militants” The Times of India wrote in reporting the murder.
Clarion Project has previously reported the murders of several leading human rights activists in Bangladesh. A terrorist group called Ansarullah Bangla Team appears to be working its way through a hit list published online of the country’s leading rationalist voices in 2014.
Murders of human rights activists by Islamist extremists will continue until that hateful ideology is defeated. Until then it is vital to support those on the frontlines around the world who are agitating to bring change.