Islamists in Pakistan Hold in Absentia Funeral for Garland Shooters

Cleric says Garland shooters are "heroes of Islam" at Pakistan funeral

As many as 200 people held an in absentia funeral Tuesday in Peshawar, Pakistan, for two men killed in Garland Sunday after they opened fire outside a cartoon contest featuring provocative images of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad, NBC News reports.

A cleric in Peshawar, Pir Mohammad Chishti, led the service for Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi at a public park in northwest Pakistan where he said the men were "the real heroes of Islam and we must be proud of their courage."

Soofi and Simpson have been identified as the men who, while wearing body armor and carrying automatic weapons, pulled up to the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland and began shooting at an unarmed security guard and a police officer.

The police officer returned fire, killing the men; the guard was wounded in the ankle.

Soofi, born in North Texas, was largely raised in the Garland area but now shared an apartment with Simpson in Phoenix.

In a radio broadcast, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack — though it offered no evidence of a direct link to the attackers.

Using loud speakers installed on a vehicle, Chishti asked people to come out of their homes and attend the in absentia funerals for the men he called "martyrs of Islam."

"Come forward and prove your love and loyalty with Islam and our beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)," the cleric told people.

The cleric said those who make fun of Islam, "provoke the Muslims on violence."

Chishti told journalists that the two men were martyrs and that he organized the service to pay tribute to them.

After the funeral, Chishti led a walk and chanted slogans against the United States and other western countries for what he said, "desecrating Islam and Islamic heroes."

NBC News' Mushtaq Yusufzai contributed to this report.

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