Mob Wrecks Police Station For Preventing Lynching of Blasphemer

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.

A video posted on Twitter showed a huge flame engulfing the police station in Charsadda Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Cars parked outside the police station were also burned.

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."

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.

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