Pakistan: Famed Sufi singer killed in drive-by shooting

23 June 2016

Freemuse calls for counter narratives to religious extremism

On 22 June 2016, one of Pakistan’s most famous singers Amjad Sabri died in the port town of Karachi after two gunmen on a motorbike shot the singer in his car just a kilometre after leaving his home. The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the killing, reported Pakistan daily The Express Tribune on 22 June 2016.

A spokesperson for a branch Taliban group in the country said they targeted the singer because they consider his music to be blasphemous.

Freemuse Executive Director Ole Reitov said:

We are deeply saddened to learn of the loss of Amjad Sabri.  It is about time that Pakistan actively engages in counter narratives to the religious extremism in the school systems and media. Pakistan and the world has lost yet another great voice due to fanatism. The freedom to practice one’s art is a universal human right and the persecution and killing of musicians for their music is a terrible crime. We call on Pakistan to bring to justice those who are responsible for the killing and those who are continuing their hate speech against artistic freedom.

Sabri was travelling to a tv studio for an iftar transmission, the evening meal when Muslims end their daily Ramadan fast, when two gunmen opened fire on his car in a congested area of the city, killing the singer and injuring a relative that was his passenger, reported The Guardian on 22 June 2016.

Amjad Sabri was a leading and respected Qawwali singer, a Sufi spiritual music, who came from a family of respected Qawwali singers, including his father Ghulam Farid Sabri and unlce Maqbool Sabri who led the scene from the 1950s in both Pakistan and India.

Karachi, the country’s most populous city, has been plagued by militant violence and targeted killings, including the recent killings of two activists in April 2016 and May 2016.

Further, two artists were killed in Pakistan in 2015 according to Freemuse annual report Art Under Threat.


» Dawn – 23 June 2016:
Famed qawwal Amjad Sabri gunned down in Karachi

» BBC – 23 June 2016:
Amjad Sabri: Pakistanis mourn famed singer after attack

» The Guardian – 22 June 2016:
Pakistani Sufi singer shot dead in Karachi

» Al Jazeera – 22 June 2016:
Pakistan Sufi singer Amjad Sabri gunned down in Karachi

» The Express Tribune – 22 June 2016:
Anjad Sabri shot dead in Karachi

Related information

» – 15 April 2015:
Pakistan: Drummer and performer killed by armed men

» – 3 March 2015:
Pakistan: Artists and singers need safety, not a Censorship Act

» – 19 June 2014:
Pakistan: Pashto singer Gulnaz killed by four gunmen

» – 17 March 2014:
Report: Religious extremism disastrous to music in Pakistan

» – 9 August 2006:
The burning music question in Islam

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