On Monday, November 29, a mob of violent Muslim protesters burned a police station, including four police posts in Peshawar, northeast Pakistan. Police officers repelled the mob's attempt to take a mentally unstable man accused of desecrating the Quran.
According to The Print, local Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl, a Deobandi Sunni political party, initiated the protest. The demonstration later turned into a violent mob who tried taking the suspect who is "mentally unstable, and he cannot speak" so they could lynch him.
An enraged mob attacked the police station in Charsadda Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. a local journalist says an incident of desecration of the Holy Quran took place in the area. Heavy police presence in area. More updates pic.twitter.com/DDQIJL89LZ
— Muhammad Daud Khan (@daudpasaney) November 28, 2021
Asif Khan, a local police officer, said no officer was hurt during the attack. However, they had to request troops to control the situation.
Khan also said they initially stood their ground and resisted the mob's demands. He said police officers did not use force to avoid hurting anyone in the crowd, but they had to flee after "thousands of demonstrators" attacked the police office buildings.
The mob asked the police to hand over a mentally unstable suspect who allegedly desecrated the Quran. In September this year, a similar case happened where a session court in Lahore charged a mentally unsound woman with blasphemy.
Khan explained that they resisted the mob's request and decided not to hand the suspect over because "officers were still investigating."
Blasphemy cases in Pakistan carry dangerous repercussions.
Zia Ur Rehman, a senior reporter for one of the English news outlets in Pakistan, said, "mobs can kill anyone and torch any building or entire neighborhood merely on allegations or rumors of blasphemy." Other journalists were also quick to denounce the punitive blasphemy cultures of Pakistan.
Salem Javed, a journalist, blamed Pakistan's "institutional and systematic Islamization."
This is what #Pakistan’s institutional and systematic Islamization of the country has resulted to:
“A mob attacked and set on fire a police station in Charsadda, demanding that authorities hand over a man arrested for allegedly desecrating the Holy Quran.”https://t.co/aD2M9nL2KC
— Saleem Javed (@mSaleemJaved) November 28, 2021
Rabia Mehmood, a researcher at the International Media Women's Foundation, said blasphemy charges are being used as a weapon to persecute religious minorities. "Citizens who are mentally ill have occasionally been booked for blasphemy or lynched by angry mobs," she added.