Pakistani cleric beaten to death over ‘blasphemous’ remarks


ISMALABAD: Pakistani man has been publicly beaten to death by an angry mob for allegedly making “blasphemous” remarks during an opposition party rally in the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Nigar Alam, a local cleric, was asked to give a speech at a rally organised by former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party on Saturday night at Sawaldher village in Mardan, a district where a university student – Mashal Khan – was killed over similar allegations by fellow students in April 2017.
Alam was killed by hundreds of people attending the rally of PTI’s local chapter after he allegedly “passed blasphemous remarks” as the gathering was about to conclude.
“When we saw that the crowd was about to attack Alam, we escorted him to a shop in a nearby market. But people broke into the shop and started attacking him with punches, kicks and clubs,” said Rokhanzeb Khan, Mardan’s senior superintendent of police.
Alam died on the spot and his body was later taken to hospital for legal formalities. “We have filed a first information report where the police itself is the complainant, but due to the sensitivity of the matter, the FIR is sealed,” the officer added.
Video of the lynching has been shared widely on social media, with police seen vainly trying to stop a frenzied mob from beating the man.
Blasphemy is a hugely sensitive issue in Pakistan and even unproven allegations can stir mob violence.
This February, an angry mob entered a police station in Lahore, snatched a blasphemy-accused from his cell and brutally killed him.
In December 2021, a Sri Lankan national, Priyantha Diyawadanage, who was working as a factory manager in Pakistan, was beaten to death by an angry crowd over blasphemy allegations before setting his body ablaze.
International and Pakistani rights groups say accusations of blasphemy have often been used to intimidate religious minorities and settle personal scores. Pakistan’s government has long been under pressure to change the country’s blasphemy laws, but other political forces in the country have strongly resisted any such move.


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