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Mob sets tourist on fire for allegedly desecrating the Quran in Pakistan

The victim, a tourist from Punjab Province, had been taken into custody before the mob attacked the police station, dragged the prisoner away and killed him on Thursday the 20th of June.

According to Zahidullah Khan, a Swat District Police Officer, the mob had been provoked by loudspeaker announcements from a mosque. The police had taken the suspect of the alleged desecration incident prisoner, but the angry crowd swarmed the police station and took the tourist away. They also burnt a police vehicle, and the police station was set on fire. Then, the mob shot the suspect and set his body on fire. Eight more people were injured in the attack.

Some graphic footage was released on social media, featuring a frenzied mob dragging a naked and bloodied body through the streets and then setting it on fire. Lynching incidents are common in Pakistan. In the Islamic state, blasphemy can legally carry the death penalty. Vigilante groups often take matters into their own hands, based on rumours only. 

Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal condemned the violent murder and urged the Parliament to take stern action to prevent “mob justice as it had brought Pakistan to the brink of destruction. Another mob lynching has happened in Swat, and Pakistan is under scrutiny for it.” Minister Iqbal also commented on his own survival from an assassination attempt and mourned the fact that religion has been weaponised.

President Mervyn Thomas, founder of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, stated: “Pakistan must do far more to prevent such horrific acts of violence, including by ending any and all impunity that surrounds those who take the law into their own hands and repealing the blasphemy laws which are incompatible with the country’s commitments to freedom of religion or belief.” 

The bodyguard of Salman Taseer – governor of Pakistan’s Punjab province – assassinated him for speaking out against blasphemy laws in 2011. 

Asia Bibi, a Christian mother of five, was sentenced to death for alleged blasphemy in the same year. She spent eight years in prison, waiting for her execution. Fortunately, she was released following international outrage.

Last month, a Christian man in his seventies was attacked by a mob on charges of burning pages of the Koran and later died of his injuries in eastern Pakistan.

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