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    » 05/17/2014, 00.00

    PAKISTAN

    Accused of blasphemy, man killed in police station

    Jibran Khan

    A 15-year-old boy is the murderer. The issue began when the dead man complained against a shopkeeper who had displayed a sign with derogatory remarks about Ahmadis. The latter responded by filing a formal complaint.

    Lahore (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Accused of blasphemy, Khalil Ahmad, 65, was killed yesterday by gunshots inside a police station by a 15-year-old boy, in Sharaqpur village, near Lahore, Punjab.

    The incident began when Ahmad and three other people complained to a shopkeeper who had displayed a sign with derogatory comments about Ahmadis, an Islamic minority considered heretical by mainstream Muslims.

    The shopkeeper refused to comply and after a heated argument made a formal complaint of blasphemy against Khalil Ahmed. Arrested last Tuesday, the father of four was taken to Sharaqpur police station.

    Yesterday evening, a young man presented himself to police, asked to see Ahmad, and as the latter approached, shot him. He was arrested by police.

    The incident is yet another example of the 'black law' at work adopted in 1986 by then dictator Zia-ul-Haq to satisfy the Islamist demands.

    The 'law' imposes life in prison or the death sentence on anyone who desecrates the Qur'an or insults the name of the prophet Muhammad.

    As a result, religious minorities are constantly intimated, including Ahmadis. Formally declared as 'non-Muslims' in 1984, many of them have been arrested for reading verses of the Qur'an or having them engraved on rings. In 2010, 86 of them were killed in two simultaneous attacks in Lahore.

    Over the years, the so-called black law has come to be used as a tool to settle personal scores or to use in business disputes. It has also been used to seize assets that belong to members of religious minorities. Indeed, the number of cases has grown exponentially, from one in 2001 to 80 in 2011.

    In many cases, like that of Khalil Ahmad, disputes end in murder. Just last week for example, lawyer Rashid Rehman Khan, a prominent human rights advocate involved in the legal defence of a university professor accused of blasphemy, was himself shot dead. On a previous occasion, he had been threatened in a courtroom by fellow lawyers.

    Likewise, earlier in the week, 68 lawyers were accused of blasphemy in Jhang District, Punjab. Mostly Shia, the lawyers had taken to the streets to protest against the police for arresting without reason one of their colleagues.

    As a result of the rally, the lawyers were accused of insulting the name of a close relative of Muhammad in what is for all intents and purposes a bitter dispute between police and members of the legal profession.

    Following the latest incidents, human rights organisations Life for All Pakistan and the Masih Foundation have announced intention to stage protest rallies in Lahore to express solidarity with the Ahmadi community.

    For Fr John Aslam, a clergyman from the Diocese of Lahore, what happened to Khalil Ahmad was tragic, the third blasphemy case in two weeks.

    The victim, the priest, said "was falsely accused and fell prey to the extremist mind-set. A teenager killed without even asking whether he had committed blasphemy or not. A simple discussion over blasphemy led to an extreme reaction. The man was in police custody. Not letting the courts decide the fate of defendants and taking the law in your hands in the name of religion is insanity."

    Even Muslim scholar Abid Ali condemned the incident, saying that "this case shows that the police is helpless and [that it] failed to protect an accused. Killing an innocent in the name of religion is unacceptable. Religious minorities have the right to practice their beliefs".

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    See also

    13/02/2009 PAKISTAN
    Presumed guilty five Ahmadis arrested in Punjab for blasphemy
    Asma Jahangir, chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, slams the charges, urging the government to prevent abuses in the application of the law. The Ahmadis in question are accused of defacing the walls of a bathroom in a mosque with offensive graffiti. For the Commission an extremist organisation and a relative of a local politician put pressure on police to incriminate the group.

    19/04/2011 BANGLADESH
    Christians and Ahmadis take a first “positive, enriching and constructive” step
    A large number of people attend a joint conference hosted by the Ahmadi community, a Muslim group persecuted as “infidels” by Sunni Muslims. The meeting was important for Christians as well, this according to Fr Francesco Rapacioli (PIME) because encountering “Another religious reality [. . .] enables us to better understand our own faith.”

    06/08/2014 PAKISTAN
    "I saw my niece burn alive." The dramatic story of an attack on Ahmadis in Punjab
    Arslan Shahyar describes the pain of the terrible death of a young, pregnant woman, in the fire that destroyed her home. Extremist madness unleashed by an alleged case of blasphemy. The solidarity of Christians. Ahmadis take to the streets to demand justice. But in Pakistan there are still cases of abuse and violence against minorities.

    26/04/2016 19:03:00 PAKISTAN
    Ahmadis increasingly victims of human rights violations in Pakistan

    According to the annual report on persecution against the group, 248 Ahmadis were murdered last year, with another 323 victims of attempted murder. Scores of their places of worship have either been seized or illegally disposed. Many of their tombs have been desecrated. Since 1974, Ahmadis have been treated as “non-Muslims” and a government ordinance bans them from using Islamic greetings and prayers, or to refer to their places of worship as mosques.



    17/06/2006 PAKISTAN
    Two Muslims accused of blasphemy murdered in two days
    The first victim is an imam accused of burning some pages of the Qur'an. The other is a man accused of uttering blasphemous words during an altercation with a lorry driver and was murdered near a courthouse.



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