Nazir Masih and his wife Allah Rakhi-01

Nazir Masih and his wife Allah Rakhi Photo: AsiaNews

Pakistan: Muslims lynch and burn holidaymaker, wife dies in shock

The man was holidaying in the Swat Valley. Police arrested him on charges of burning pages of the Qur’ān, but a mob stormed the station and killed him. Activist accuses Pakistan of being «a barbarian state» while the authorities remain silent. For Naveed Walter, “No one is safe now.” In another case, the wife of Nazir Masih, another lynch mob victim, died from the traumatic experience. In Sialkot, a Christian man is on the run.

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Shafique Khokhar

(ZENIT News – Asia News / Swat, 06.24.2024).- A new tragedy linked to blasphemy has unfolded in Pakistan, where cases of lynching mobs acting with impunity in the name of religion are becoming more and more frequent amid the inaction of the authorities and the silence of international community.

The latest incident occurred Wednesday evening in the Swat Valley. The victim, Mohammad Ismail, was on vacation when he was attacked and torched alive for burning pages of the Qur’ān.

Such a story clearly illustrates how Pakistan state is incapable of guaranteeing safety and security to its citizens. Instead, powerful groups rule, their violent ideology contributing to the list of innocent victims, people like Mashal Khan, Shama and Shahzad, Priyantha Kumara, Nazir Masih, and now Mohammad Ismail.

Another victim is Allah Rakhi, the widow of 72-year-old Christian Nazir Masih, who died from the effects of the traumatic experience of seeing her husband killed.

Since 1987 when blasphemy became an offence, dozens of people have been reportedly lynched by mobs, based on specious charges used to settle personal scores, exact revenge, justify extrajudicial killings, and target religious minorities, like Christians and Ahmadis.

In this latest case, police had arrested Mohammad Ismail (pictured) and charged him with blasphemy for burning Arabic-language papers. But an angry mob came to the Madyan Swat police station demanding the officers hand over the man to be executed on the spot.

When police refused, a group stormed the station. After injuring some agents and vandalising the premises, they took the victim from his cell to lynch, and burnt him alive while shouting extremist slogans.

“Pakistan is now turning into a barbarian state,” said social media writer and researcher Aamir Kakkazai, speaking to AsiaNews. “Unfortunately, Pakistani state authorities are completely silent and confused on the entire barbarian incident done by Muslim fundamentalists. Either the Pakistani state is afraid or not interested to solve the problem of religious extremism.”

For Kakkazai, “Muslim fundamentalists and Pakistan’s right-wing political parties have always tried to convert this democratic and modern country into a barbarian state,” while nurturing “an atmosphere of intolerance, violence and punishing ordinary people in the name of religion.”

This violence has turned «our society into a killing field” because of the “misuse of blasphemy laws”. This is causing “anarchy” and “total chaos is not far behind,” Kakkazai lamented.

Naveed Walter, who chairs Human Rights Focus Pakistan (HRFP), said that accusing innocent people of blasphemy has reached such a level that nobody is safe now. Anyone can be accused by anyone, anywhere in Pakistan.

In the Swat Valley, not only tourism will be affected but the pressure of radicals will increase. Silence on such matters is an encouragement to accusers and attackers.

Another controversial incident related to blasphemy laws took place on Wednesday as well.

A Christian man, Waseem Masih, struck a deal with an imam from the local village mosque in Kaanpur, Sialkot district, for the Eid holiday, paying the cleric 15,000 rupees. When the latter renegade on it, the Christian asked for his money back, upon which the imam turned on the mosque’s loudspeaker to accuse Waseem of blasphemy.

The villagers gathered and tried to seize him, but he managed to escape and is now hiding in a safe place. However, local Christian families are so frightened and afraid of being attacked that they have begun to vacate their homes.

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