Pakistan: burned to death for Islamic blasphemy

A man accused of blasphemy, according to Islamic religious law, was extra-judicially killed in Pakistan outside a police station in the Chani Ghoth area of the Bahawalpur region in the Punjab.  Deputy Superintendent of Police Ahmedpur said, "The Chani Goth police station received a complaint that a person has burnt the pages of the Quran; the police arrested the person and brought him to the police station and put him in the lock up. Some religious leaders announced on the loud speakers that a man has committed blasphemy against Islam.” As is frequently the case in Muslim-dominated Pakistan, mobs surrounded the police station baying for the life of the alleged blasphemer. The mob blocked the main highway through the town and broke down the gates of the police station, attacking the officers and injuring Station House Officer Ghulam Mohudin Gajjar along with four guards. Superintendent Ahmedpur also sustained injuries. All told, some 15 officers were injured in the melee and are now in hospital.

Things went much worse for the hapless detainee. According to Ahmedpur, “the mob broke the lockup and took out the prisoner, threw petrol on him and burnt him alive. Approximately 2,000 enraged locals also torched the police vehicles in the police station; this continued for over 2 hours. The mob stood there until the man completely burnt."

Police spokesmen allege that the victim of the lynch mob was mentally unstable. He has been identified as Ghulam Abbas, a man in his forties. A complaint has been filed and an investigation is expected. A local politician said “We are thankful to Allah that no policeman was killed in the attack."

The incident has enflamed the fears of Christians and Ahmadi Muslims, the two main minorities in Pakistan. In recent years, jailings and extrajudicial killings of minorities have increased. Former Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, for instance, was assassinated by his own body guard for having defended the cause of Asia Bibi – a Christian woman who continues to await execution for alleged blasphemy.


In a statement, the Masihi Foundation Pakistan and Life for All Pakistan strongly condemned the most recent incident of sharia savagery. "Religion should be kept separate from the state affairs, burning a man alive is a inhuman act, the police has failed to take action against the people responsible. The law was abused by the mob, there is no justification for this barbaric act. The authorities must act and take action against the lawlessness. No one is above the law, there is no justification in killing a human being, it was for the judicial system to decide whether the person is guilty or not. It’s time to put an end of the law of the jungle or we will end up in insanity. Laws are made to protect men from other men, not to protect God from humans. We urge the Chief Justice to take notice of the incident and take action against the people involved in the incident. The CJ must ensure the rule of the law in the Country."

The Bahawalpur Catholic Diocese has also condemned the incident. Fr Zafar Samuel from Bahawalpur said, “This is a sad incident, we condemn it. This is a inhuman act. It must be condemned. The Punjab province has been in the lime light for the abuse of the blasphemy law. There is a strong need to spread awareness regarding blasphemy and laws associated with it. These naive people have no idea what its all about. "

The Catholic bishop of Rawalpindi/Islamabad Rufin Anthony said, " We strongly condemn the attack on the police station and the loss of a human life. The law enforcing agencies must act and ensure  the rule of the law. Taking the law in their own hands is against the law. It is time for some changes in the legislation, legislation that will protect innocent lives and ensure the safety of the people accused and  under trail. How much more blood do we have to endure for the authorities to realize that it is time to act. We don’t want incidents like Shanti Nagar, Kasoor, Sialkot, and Gojra to be repeated. We urge them to take this as an eye opener and rescue the suffering."
 

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