A Muslim shopkeeper was brutally murdered in Glasgow Thursday, hours after wishing his Christian customers a happy Easter on Facebook, in what police are treating as a religiously motivated crime.
Police arrested a 32-year-old Muslim suspect in connection with the killing.
“A full investigation is under way to establish the full circumstances surrounding the death which is being treated as religiously prejudiced,” police said.
British media reported that 40-year-old Asad Shah was a soft-spoken, gentle man who was much loved by his community, in Glasgow’s Shawlands district.
On Friday night hundreds of residents held a vigil in Shah’s honor. Tributes to the shopkeeper poured in on social media.
“Everybody has said he was the nicest man. He was clearly much-loved,” Eildon Dyer, one of the organizers, told the BBC. “Everybody had nice stories to tell about him and warm stories. It’s just very, very sad.”
In a message posted to his Facebook account hours before his murder, Shah wished his customers: “Good Friday and a very Happy Easter, especially to my beloved Christian nation … Let’s follow the real footstep of beloved holy Jesus Christ and get the real success in both worlds.”
Around 9 p.m. he was attacked in the street outside his shop and stabbed at least 30 times. An eyewitness told the Daily Record that two men were involved, and that he saw one of them stamp on Shah’s head as he lay on the ground. He was rushed to a hospital but pronounced dead on arrival.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who took part in Friday’s memorial service, tweeted that she was “Moved to be one of hundreds tonight as Shawlands united in grief for Asad Shah and support for his family.”
Keira Riley, a Shawlands resident who said she’d known Shah for seven years, told the Guardian she was “deeply hurt” by the killing.
“Every year he would print out his own Christmas cards with his own personal message in it for you,” she recalled. “I can’t think why this would happen to him. I know he was loved by everyone who went into his shop. He always remembered you and shook your hand when you left.”
It is not known whether Shah’s overtures to the Christian community contributed to his death.
Aamer Anwar, a Scottish human rights lawyer who knew Shah, told the Guardian it was important “not to jump to conclusions” regarding his murder.
“It’s important that people remain calm. The police have thrown every resource at this investigation and it’s extremely important to allow the police to continue with their work.”
A GoFundMe page set up to gather financial aid for Shahs family had on Saturday raised over £24,000 ($34,000), comprised of over 1,500 donations.