On February 11, a Pakistani man accused of blasphemy was dragged outside a police station by an angry mob in the country’s eastern province of Punjab and lynched, Pakistani authorities said.
Another mob lynching over alleged blasphemy in Pakistan. Unbearable to watch the video of the mob, which even includes children, kicking and beating a dead man. The police ran away to save themselves. Just sickening.
— Arsalan Khan (@akkhan81) February 11, 2023
According to senior police officer Babar Sarfaraz Alpa, the man was identified as Waris Ali Issa, imprisoned for reportedly desecrating pages of the Quran, the Islamic holy book.
The officer said Waris pasted pictures of himself, his wife, and his knife on several pages of the book before displaying them and hurling them back and forth in the rural district of Nankana.
The angry mob, composed of hundreds of Muslims, accused him of witchcraft and charged into the Warburton police station where Waris was in custody. Alpa also reported that some protesters used a wooden ladder to climb a wall and open the gate for the mob.
Yet another case of mob lynching in Pakistan over alleged insult of Islam. A man was first handed to police amid street sloganeering of Sharia punishment. Then a mob broke into the police station and killed him. Victim not identified yet in reports #blasphemy pic.twitter.com/M7Bm1fT8E1
— Swati Goel Sharma (@swati_gs) February 11, 2023
The group then pillaged the police station before grabbing Waris from his cell. In addition, Alpa said: “By the time police reinforcement could reach the scene, the mob lynched the man and were about to burn his body. But police, with the help of saner people in the area, foiled their attempt.”
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif condemned the lynching incident and demanded the chief of Punjab police take action against officers who failed to protect Waris while he was in custody.
Punjab police chief Usman Anwar suspended the chief of the Warburton police station and the area deputy superintendent for failing to perform their duties and prevent the mob from storming the police station and lynching the suspect.
In Nankana Sahib, Pakistan, an extremist mob lynched a man over alleged desecration of Quran. Another example of rising religious extremism in Pakistan. Thankfully, the regime has suspended two cops and any minister is yet to garland the lynching mob.
— Ashok Swain (@ashoswai) February 11, 2023
Alpa said the authorities would investigate the lynching. He also noted that Waris was already arrested for a similar blasphemy charge in 2019, found innocent, and released from prison in mid-2022.
He said that Waris desecrated the Quran once more last Saturday morning when people who saw him grabbed and beat him before the police managed to rescue him and take him into custody.
Under Pakistani law, blasphemy charges carry the death penalty, although the government rarely carries out these sentences. Human rights groups from Pakistan and abroad have criticized the Muslim-majority country’s blasphemy laws, saying they are often used to intimidate religious minorities. Despite pressure to change its blasphemy laws, Islamists in Pakistan have strongly resisted these demands.
Pakistan is no stranger to horrifying accounts of lynching often connected to blasphemy. In December 2021, the world was shocked by the news of Priyantha Kumara, a Buddhist Sri Lankan factory manager, lynched by hundreds of Muslims in Punjab.
The incident received media attention, and hundreds of Pakistanis were convicted for participating in the event.
On February 13, police said that over 50 people had been arrested for the lynching, including members of the Tehreek Laibbaik Pakistan (TLP) group.
50 suspects arrested in kidnapping & lynching of man detained for blasphemy in #Pakistan #PakBlasphemyCase https://t.co/HeK61bJEyv
— Republic (@republic) February 13, 2023