Mob Burning Of Man Who Burned Koran Puts Spotlight On Pakistan’s Blasphemy Laws

HYDERABAD, Pakistan – A mob forced its way into a Pakistan police station and burned a man accused of burning the Koran to death on Friday.

The man, a traveler to the southern village of Seeta, in Sindh, spent Thursday night in the mosque there. On Friday morning, the charred remains of a Koran found in the mosque triggered a violent eruption from villagers.

Maulvi Memon, the imam in the village, told Reuters:

“He was alone in the mosque during the night. There was no one else there to do this terrible thing.”

On Friday, villagers later beat the traveler then handed him over to police to be arrested. Hours later, a mob of around 200 stormed the police station, dragged the man out and burned him alive.

Usman Ghani, the senior superintendent of police in the Dadu district, told Reuters that around 30 people had been arrested for the murder and seven more were being kept in custody for negligence.

A recently published report from the Center for Research and Security, reveals that at least 53 people have been killed in Pakistan since 1990 after being accused of blasphemy.

In Pakistan, transgressions under blasphemy laws are mostly punishable by death, but it’s not specifically written into law. People have been arrested for merely discussing Islam, making mistakes in homework, promoting education for girls, or not joining protests against films or works that apparently insult Islam.

Additionally, in the last two years two senior Pakistani officials who pushed for blasphemy law reform have been shot dead. In the criminal case that resulted, rose petals were thrown at the killer and the judge who convicted him was forced to flee the country, Reuters reports.

Such is the heightened atmosphere around these types of cases that even court lawyers don’t repeat the evidence for fear of being accused of blasphemy. Often, as in the most recent death-by-mob scenario, citizens carry out punishments on perceived offenders themselves.

As for the latest casualty, reportedly mentally unstable and certainly entitled to personal safety while in police custody, the unnamed man’s death puts international spotlight on Pakistan’s blasphemy laws once more, notes The Daily Beast.

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