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Pakistan: Lynching an alledged ’blasphemer’ on campus

Thursday 13 April 2017, by siawi3

Source: https://www.dawn.com/news/1326729

Mardan university student lynched by mob over alleged blasphemy: police

Reuters | Ali Akbar | Hassan Farhan

13.04.2017, Updated about 2 hours ago

A 23-year-old student of Abdul Wali Khan University, Mardan was killed and another seriously injured by a vigilante mob for allegedly "publishing blasphemous content online", local police said Thursday.

The incident occurred within the university premises. The campus was shut down following the incident until further notice and its hostels vacated to avoid a further escalation of violence.

At least 45 people had been arrested in connection with the incident by Thursday evening, according to Mardan District Police Officer Dr Mian Saeed.

No case had been filed against the two students prior to the incident and police had not been investigating the two on blasphemy charges.

The mob instead seems to have been incited by rumours circulating among the university’s student body.

Mardan’s Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police Mohammad Alam Shinwari said the deceased student, Mashal, had been accused of running Facebook pages "which allegedly published blasphemous content".

He was attacked by a large group of students and appears to have succumbed to a gunshot wound, the DIG said.

“The charged students then wanted to burn his body,” Shinwari said, before police intervened.

’Beaten and bloody’: eyewitnesses recount horror

An eyewitness at the scene of the incident said Mashal and Abdullah, two Mass Communication students, were attacked because they were believed to be "promoting the Ahmadi faith on Facebook".

Photo: Policeman inspect a room of Mashal Khan. —AFP

The eyewitness said a mob of university students first surrounded Abdullah and forced him to recite verses from the Holy Quran. Although he repeatedly denied the accusation that he was an Ahmadi, the students beat him nonetheless.

The police, when alerted, reached the site of the attack and rescued Abdullah, after which the mob set its sights on Mashal, who was in the hostel at the time, the eyewitness said.

Mashal was beaten and shot by the mob and succumbed to the injuries he received.

Video footage of the incident showed Mashal lying on the floor surrounded by men. The student was not moving and his body bore marks of severe torture. Men could be seen kicking his lifeless body and beating it with wooden planks.

Towards the end of the video, he was pulled from his clothes by an unidentified man.
Police inspect the hostel where students beat to death a classmate.—AFP

A student requesting anonymity said several leaders of the university’s student bodies were part of the attacking mob.

One of Mashal’s teachers later told Reuters that he was a passionate and critical student.

“He was brilliant and inquisitive, always complaining about the political system of the country, but I never heard him saying anything controversial against the religion,” the teacher said.

’Police unable to control the situation’

University administration official Fayaz Ali Shah confirmed that the mob of students had killed Mashal over allegations of ’blasphemy’.

He said over 20 officers had arrived at the scene, were unable to control the situation because there were so many students involved.

Photo: Mob marching through campus premises. ─ DawnNews

Hostel warden Muhammad Ali, recounting the incident, claimed that: "Three to four thousand students were approaching. I was alerted that they were approaching, so I closed the gates but they broke in, found Mashal and fired at him and started beating him."

Students said police had been alerted of the incident and were present on campus at the time. When asked why they didn’t intervene, police said there were "too many people" in the mob for them to take on.

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Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-pakistan-blasphemy-idUSKBN17F1ZL

Pakistani student accused of blasphemy beaten to death on campus

Thu Apr 13, 2017 | 1:35pm EDT

By Jibran Ahmed

PESHAWAR, Pakistan

A mob beat a Pakistani student to death at his university campus on Thursday after he was accused of sharing blasphemous content on social media, university and police officials said.

A group of about 10 students shouted "Allahu Akbar" during the attack on fellow student Mashal Khan, who was stripped naked and beaten with planks until his skull caved in as other students looked on, video obtained by Reuters showed.

Blasphemy is a highly sensitive topic in Muslim-majority Pakistan, where insulting the Prophet Mohammed is a capital crime that has dozens languishing on death row and where even an accusation can lead to violence.

In recent months, Pakistan’s government has been vocal about the issue, with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif issuing an order last month for removal of blasphemous content online and saying anyone who posted such content should face "strict punishment under the law".

Ten students have been arrested after Thursday’s attack the grounds of a university in the northern city of Mardan, local police chief Mohammad Alam Shinwari said.

"After severe torture that led his death, the charged students then wanted to burn his body," said Shinwari.

At least 65 people have been murdered over blasphemy allegations since 1990, according to figures from a Center for Research and Security Studies report and local media.

It was unclear exactly what online posting had prompted the blasphemy accusation against Khan, who was studying journalism.

One of Khan’s teachers recalled that he was a passionate and critical student.

"He was brilliant ‎and inquisitive, always complaining about the political system of the country, but I never heard him saying anything controversial against the religion," said the teacher.

In 2011, a bodyguard assassinated Punjab provincial governor Salman Taseer after the governor called for reforming blasphemy laws.

Taseer’s killer, executed last year, has been hailed by religious hard-liners as a martyr to Islam and a shrine has been erected at his grave.

Recently, fighting blasphemy has also become a rallying cry for the government.

Pakistani online activists believe blasphemy-related crack downs on social media are veiled attempts by the country’s powerful military to limit dissent on human rights violations.

In January, five online activists went missing and were publicly accused of blasphemy while they were absent. Four of them have reappeared and at least one has said he was abducted and interrogated by Pakistan’s intelligence agencies.

The military has denied any part in the activists’ disappearances.

(Writing by Saad Sayeed; Editing by Tom Heneghan)

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Source: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2017/04/13/humanist-student-mashal-khan-beaten-to-death-in-pakistan-after-accusations-of-blasphemy/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=BRSS&utm_campaign=Nonreligious&utm_content=361

“Humanist” Student Mashal Khan Beaten to Death in Pakistan After Accusations of Blasphemy

April 13, 2017

by Hemant Mehta

According to very disturbing reports out of Pakistan, Mashal Khan, an activist who called himself “The Humanist” on Facebook and a student at Abdul Wali Khan University in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, was shot and beaten to death by fellow students today after being accused of blasphemy.

MashalHumanist

MashalKhanBeating

According to the police, the mob first surrounded [Khan’s friend] Abdullah and forced him to recite verses from the Quran. They started beating him when he was reciting the verses. Police intervention rescued Abdullah, but the attackers then went to the hostel where Mashal Khan was staying. “Mashal was beaten and shot by the mob who died on the spot,” a police officer stated.

A video footage apparently shot on a mobile phone showed Khan lying on the floor in a pool of blood surrounded by people beating him with sticks.

That not-safe-for-life footage is here and here.

The hostel owner said he tried to ward off the mob but was unsuccessful:

Hostel warden Muhammad Ali told reporters that he closed the gate of the hostel after seeing the mob. “I closed the gates but they broke in, found Mashal and fired at him and started beating him.”

It’s not clear that Khan was an atheist despite the parenthetical on his Facebook page. In fact, he was accused of being the wrong kind of Muslim:

An eyewitness at the scene of the incident said Mashal and Abdullah, two Mass Communication students, were attacked because they were believed to be “promoting the Ahmadi faith on Facebook”.

The eyewitness said a mob of university students first surrounded Abdullah and forced him to recite verses from the Holy Quran. Although he repeatedly denied the accusation that he was an Ahmadi, the students beat him nonetheless.

Remember that Pakistan is a nation where the law says blasphemers may be executed. The murder comes just weeks after two Pakistani atheists, Ayaz Nizami and Rana Noman, were arrested for posting their thoughts about religion on online forums.

Already, Humanist groups are speaking out against the murder (obviously) and the conditions that allowed it to occur. A spokesperson for Atheist and Agnostic Alliance Pakistan said via email:

We are already extremely worried about recently arrested atheists, Ayaz Nizami and Rana Nouman, and the murder of Mashal Khan makes us more concerned than ever. In a country like Pakistan, when the police stand by as mobs of students who are supposed to be interested in ‘higher learning’ commit this atrocity, it is lawless. What if someone try to kill Ayaz Nizami and Rana Nouman in prison? Will the guards stand by?

There will be no justice while “blasphemy” is a crime and people feel they can get away with murder.

Gary McLelland, Chief Executive of the International Humanist and Ethical Union, added:

This heinous act by university students against one of their own should appall everyone in Pakistan and around the world.

And this kind of frenzy does not come from nowhere. This vile murder must be a wake-up call to the High Court judges, and to all those government agencies and members of the police and other security services who this year have participated in a campaign of persecution against individuals for so-called ‘blasphemy’. They have been whipping up anti-blasphemy hysteria, when they should be interesting in upholding individual human rights. They have been “disappearing” and harassing and arresting innocent people, when they should have been taking action against those who agitate and send death threats against ‘blasphemers’.

Pakistan has a social order problem and a blasphemy law problem. These problems will not solved by whipping up a frenzy or by imposing more controls on free expression on religion or non-religion. A tolerant society is not achieved by public officials venting their own intolerance, and facilitating wider public intolerance. It is achieved by upholding freedom of expression, freedom of thought and belief for everyone.

It is past time to abolish anti-blasphemy laws in Pakistan and everywhere.

As I’ve said before, remember what all this is about: Words.

When critics of Islam (and religion as a whole) dare to state their beliefs publicly, both hard-line Muslims and government officials believe they should be arrested, jailed, or executed for it. (So much for being a religion of peace.) This won’t stop unless Muslim leaders in those countries speak out in defense of the critics. Governments around the world must also repeal their blasphemy laws in defense of free speech.

No one deserves to be physically harmed — much less brutally slaughtered — for anything they say or think. It’s been said that blasphemy is a victimless crime, but it’s becoming abundantly clear that there are victims: The people who do the supposed “blaspheming.”

(Portions of the article were published earlier)