The United States extends its sympathy to the people of Pakistan as they mourn the senseless murder of famed Sufi Qawwali singer Amjad Sabri.
Mr. Sabri, who came from a distinguished family of singers of Sufi devotional music, was gunned down in his car in the southern city of Karachi on June 22 by unidentified assailants on motor bikes. Karachi police described the attack as an “act of terror.” A faction of the Pakistani Taliban has claimed responsibility for the murder.
The traditions of Sufi Muslims date back approximately 1000 years in South Asia. But in recent times, they have drawn the anger of hard-line Islamist groups like the Taliban. The State Department’s most recent report on international religious freedom cites “numerous reports of attacks on holy places, cemeteries, and symbols of religious minorities” in Pakistan, and mentions the February 2014 attack on the Shrine of Mast Twakali, a popular Sufi poet of Balochistan. The report also notes that throughout the year, members of religious minorities were targeted and killed by violent extremists.
Thousands of Pakistanis attended Mr. Sabri’s funeral. Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif called Mr. Sabri’s death an “irreparable loss.”
At a press briefing, State Department Spokesperson John Kirby said such acts as the murder of Amjad Sabri “violate the fundamental freedoms of expression, and religion, and belief. The arts,” Mr. Kirby added, “have long been a forum for new ideas for fighting against intolerance…Our thoughts and prayers go out to [Mr. Sabri’s] family and to the people of Pakistan.”