Friday, April 21, 2017
An angry crowd in northern Pakistan has attacked a man accused of blasphemy and injured policemen trying to save him. It is the third violent incident related to blasphemy in Pakistan this month.
A mob in the northern Pakistani town of Chitral on Friday attacked an alleged blasphemer - said to be mentally ill - and then injured six police officers who intervened to rescue him, police said.
Eight protesters were also injured after police fired tear gas and live rounds into the crowd as it attacked the local police headquarters and demanded that the man be handed over to mob justice.
Local police chief Akbar Ali Shah said assurances that the man would be tried for blasphemy if found to be mentally fit had failed to placate the irate mob.
The man had been attacked at a mosque after declaring that all Muslims should follow him as he had been appointed as their religious leader by God, another local police official said. He said an imam had intervened when worshippers at Friday prayers had begun to beat the man, and had handed him over to police.
This month has already seen a student, Mashal Khan, beaten to death by a lynch mob in the city of Mardan and a faith healer shot dead after they were alleged to have violated Pakistan's draconian laws against blasphemy.
A suspicion suffices
Also on Friday, police said that three female friends had confessed to killing a man for insulting the Prophet Muhammad.
Police Inspector Nadeem Ashraf told The Associated Press that the women were arrested this week.
The slain man, Fazal Abbas, had just come back from living in hiding abroad for 13 years after fleeing the country in 2004 following accusations of blasphemy. Ashraf said the women shot Abbas dead at his house on Wednesday.
Insulting the Prophet Muhammad or making statements against Islam are capital offenses in Muslim-majority Pakistan, and dozens of people have been condemned to death on such charges. Critics say unfounded allegations of blasphemy are often also misused by people wanting to settle scores with enemies, as the mere suspicion that someone could be guilty of the crime can be enough to ignite deadly mob violence.