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Thousands Attend Funeral of Slain Pakistani Sufi Singer

  • Ayaz Gul

People throw rose petals on an ambulance carrying the body of Pakistani Sufi singer Amjad Sabri during his funeral in Karachi, Pakistan, June 23, 2016.

People throw rose petals on an ambulance carrying the body of Pakistani Sufi singer Amjad Sabri during his funeral in Karachi, Pakistan, June 23, 2016.

A day after he was gunned down in southern Pakistan's port city of Karachi, tens of thousands of mourners attended the funeral procession of renowned Sufi singer Amjad Sabri.

A splinter faction of the outlawed extremist Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for killing the 45-year-old Sabri, one of South Asia’s most popular singers of “qawwali”, a style of music rooted in Sufism, a mystical form of Islam practiced in Pakistan and India for centuries.

Religious extremists reject Sufism, saying it has nothing to do with Islam. Loyalists of the anti-state Pakistani Taliban have in recent years staged attacks on followers and shrines linked to Sufism.

Ambushed in Karachi

Gunmen ambushed Sabri’s car Wednesday, spraying it with bullets in a busy part of Karachi.

High-profile attacks are not uncommon in Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city and commercial hub, with a population of around 20 million.

Authorities say a security operation led by paramilitary forces has led to a significant decline in political, ethnic and religiously-motivated violence during the past three years.

Amjad Sabri, who was gunned down June 22, 2016, in Karachi, performed at a Qawwali concert in Annandale, Virginia, in 2013. (Saqib Ul Islam/VOA)

Amjad Sabri, who was gunned down June 22, 2016, in Karachi, performed at a Qawwali concert in Annandale, Virginia, in 2013. (Saqib Ul Islam/VOA)


Fears of violence

But the assassination of Sabri has strengthened public fears violence in the city is resurfacing, with police reporting several deaths in incidents of targeted attacks.

Authorities have yet to determine the whereabouts of a son of the chief justice of Sindh province, of which Karachi is the capital city. Witnesses and police say masked gunmen kidnapped Awais Ali Shah from the parking area of a busy shopping center in the city’s posh Clifton neighborhood Monday. No one has claimed responsibility for the crime.

A Pakistani rights activist, Khurram Zaki, was gunned down last month in a central part of Karachi. He was a known critic of the Pakistani Taliban and religious groups supporting their extremist brand of Islam.

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