Amjad Sabri dead: Pakistan mourns singer after he was shot dead in attack claimed by extremists

The Pakistani Prime Minister has condemned the murder and has ordered an investigation

Olivia Blair
Thursday 23 June 2016 15:49 BST
Amjad Sabri performs at Trafo, Budapest, on 21st January, 2012
Amjad Sabri performs at Trafo, Budapest, on 21st January, 2012

The murder of one of Pakistan's most famous singers has triggered an outpouring of grief in the country.

On Wednesday afternoon, Amjad Sabri’s vehicle was shot at in the southern city of Karachi by two men on motorcycles in what police called a “targeted attack”. His brother, who was also in the vehicle, was wounded.

The Islamist extremist group TTP, who are a faction of the Pakistani Taliban, have claimed responsibility for the attack, claiming they targeted the 45-year-old because he was a “blasphemer”.

Amjad Sabri

Sabri was born into music as the son of Ghulam Faris Sabri, who along with his brother Maqbool Sabri formed the Sabri Brothers – one of the most famous qawwali bands in Pakistan. Their family’s link to qawwali music can be traced back to the 17th century.

Sabri’s music took him all over the world and he performed in Chicago and Budapest in recent years. 

In 2014, Sabri was named in a blasphemy case against a local TV station after he performed a qawwali song which referred to historical religious figures. The case has been pending in court. 

Sabri is one of the country’s best-known singers and sings qawwali music which is based in Sufism, a form of mystical Islam. Sufi shrines and followers have been targeted by Islamic extremists in recent years. A 2011 suicide bomb attack at a shrine in Punjab killed 41 people.

The singer’s death has prompted thousands of tributes and public outcry in Pakistan. Some Karachi residents and fans, including some well-known sportsmen, actors and fellow singers, gathered outside his home in the city, reports the BBC.

Fans, relatives and local residents gather outside of Amjad Sabri's home in Karachi (RIZWAN TABASSUM/AFP/Getty Images)

There have also been demonstrations in the capital city of Islamabad, where protesters lit oil lamps and held up images of Sabri to mark his death.

Pakistani Shiite Muslim protesters shout slogans next to oil lamps to pay tribute to Amjad Sabri in Islamabad ( AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images) (AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images)

His funeral, which is taking place on Thursday, has already attracted mass crowds and is being closely guarded by a security operation, according to Al Jazeera.

Many paid tribute to Sabri on social media, including Maryam Nawaz Sharif, the daughter of Pakistan’s Prime Minister, who said she had burst into tears hearing his music again.

The former cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan also paid tribute to Sabri and criticised the government.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has condemned Sabri’s killing and ordered an investigation.

Sabri is survived by his wife and five children.

Additional reporting by agencies

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