Asad Shah
Asad Shah was murdered outside his newsagent shop in the Shawlands area of Glasgow

A taxi driver has admitted to the brutal and religiously motivated murder of 40-year-old Glasgow shopkeeper Asad Shah.

Tanveer Ahmed, 32, launched into a vicious attack on Shah on 24 March, stabbing him 30 times with a kitchen knife outside his store in Minard Road in the Shawlands area of the city.

Shah's brother and a co-worker desperately tried to save his life but he was later pronounced dead at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital.

Ahmed, who had driven from his home town of Bradford in West Yorkshire to Glasgow to carry out the killing, pleaded guilty to murder at the High Court in Glasgow on Thursday (7 July).

The court heard how the attack was motivated by Shah's belonging to the Ahmadi sect of Islam, which Ahmed said disrespected his Sunni Muslim beliefs.

Judge Lady Rae told Ahmed he would be sentenced on 9 August, adding: "This was a truly despicable crime, motivated, it seems, by your sense of offence at a man's expression of his religious beliefs, which differ from yours. Let me be clear – there's no justification whatsoever for what you did."

Ahmadiyyas differ in their beliefs to other Muslim denominations, believing that founder Mirza Ghulam Ahmad is a prophet. Its members, millions of whom live in Pakistan, have complained of facing persecution and Shah's family had left Pakistan for the UK 25 years ago for that reason.

Before his death, Shah had published hundreds of videos about his beliefs online, with many taken from behind his shop counter. In some, he even claimed to be a prophet himself.

The court heard how Ahmed became incensed by the videos, telling police when he was interviewed under caution on 25 March that Shah's views on Islam "disrespect the Quran, the Prophet Muhammad, Allah and faith".

Advocate depute Iain McSporran said: "He said that he had warned Asad Shah that he was there to kill him, had asked him to stop claiming to be a prophet, but that he had insisted he was."

A later statement by Ahmed said: "If I had not done this others would have and there would be more killings and violence in the world.

"I wish to make it clear that the incident was nothing at all to do with Christianity or any other religious beliefs. Even although I am a follower of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, I also love and respect Jesus Christ."

tanveer ahmed
Tanveer Ahmed, 32, will be sentenced on 9 August after pleading guilty to murdering Asad Shah Facebook

Shah had sent "Happy Easter" messages to Christians on social media just hours before his death. The court heard this had no bearing on the crime, however.

The court heard that Shah was a "well-known and clearly much-loved member of the community". His death led to hundreds attending a vigil and £110,000 ($155,000) raised to support his grieving family.

The jury was shown CCTV footage of the attack which shows Ahmed arriving at the shop at about 9pm. The pair then spoke "intensely" in Urdu.

"His demeanour and gestures are at least consistent with his account that he was attempting to persuade the shopkeeper to his point of view," McSporran said. "From what we can see of Mr Shah, he is responding but not apparently agreeing with the accused.

"The accused, having apparently not received the response he was looking for, reaches into the robes he is wearing and removes a knife with which he attacks Asad Shah, moving behind the counter to do so.

"Stephen McFadyen, who was working nearby in the shop, approaches and attempts to assist but the incident is fast moving and he is unable to prevent the attack, involving repeated stab wounds aimed at the head and upper body, continuing.

"While the attack continued, with the accused kneeling on the victim, pinning him to the ground, Stephen McFadyen bravely reached for the knife and grabbed it from the accused, running across the road and placing it in bushes out of harm's way.

"The accused then began punching, kicking and stamping with full force on the prone body of Asad Shah, who was long past being in any position to defend himself. Many blows were delivered to his head and face, despite [Shah's brother] Athar's repeated pleas for him to stop.

"The attack ceased suddenly and the accused walked calmly to a bus shelter nearby where he sat, head bowed as if in prayer."

Shah was taken to hospital but died of his injuries that night. His wife, parents and six siblings said they could no longer live a normal life in Scotland and may leave the country.

His parents said in a victim statement: "We brought our children to this country to seek refuge from Pakistan in 1991 fleeing persecution, religious hatred, discrimination and a danger to our lives because we were Ahmadis.

"We never thought that we could be in danger here. We feel imprisoned by our pain and suffering and we have little hope of ever having a normal life again.

"Most of the family, unable to live with this turmoil, pain and fear, has taken a decision to leave Scotland forever."