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    » 07/05/2012, 00.00

    PAKISTAN

    Punjab: Muslim extremists burn alive a mentally disabled man accused of blasphemy

    Jibran Khan

    The man, whose names is still unknown, was detained at the police Chani Goth station, in Bahawalpur. A mob, incited by local religious leaders, dragged him from his cell, doused him with petrol and set him on fire. In the raid police vehicles burned and four officers beaten. Bishop of Islamabad: it's time to introduce some changes to the law.

    Bahawalpur (AsiaNews) - A mob of Muslim extremists, incited by local religious leaders, last July 3 raided in a prison in Bahawalpur (Punjab) dragging a man from his cell. The assailants poured gasoline on him and set him on fire, because previously it was rumored that he was guilty of blasphemy. The prison officers were unable to contain the attack of the fanatics, four policemen were injured and several are now hospitalized in the prison. Currently there is little information on the generality of man, burned alive with inhuman brutality, who died as a result of serious injuries. From preliminary reports it appears that he had mental problems and had been thrown into a cell, while the investigators looked into the alleged violation of the "black law". However, rumors that he had burned the Koran spread rapidly triggering the reaction of the fundamentalists and yet another extrajudicial killing over an alleged case of blasphemy.

    The deputy-inspector of the district of Bahawalpur tells the story to AsiaNews. The Chani Goth police station, said the official, received a complaint that a man "burned pages of the Koran." The agents arrested him and put him into a cell. Meanwhile, some religious leaders "announced through loudspeakers that a person had committed blasphemy against Islam". Thus, a crowd gathered outside the prison demanding the surrender of the alleged criminal. "They even blocked the main road" he continues, then "they ripped open the door and attacked the officers: I also suffered injuries in the assault."

    Before they had any information on the man - who is still unknown - or having ascertain his mental health status and the alleged blasphemy case, the crowd doused him in gasoline and set him on fire (pictured, a time of the fire). The deputy inspector emphasized that extremists set fire to some vehicles parked inside the police and "the assault continued for over two hours," until "the man was not completely burned."

    The body will be autopsied and investigators are awaiting the results to try to give him an identity, so far no one has claimed the body, or reported family members missing. Meanwhile, human rights organizations and activists, including Masihi Foundation Pakistan and Life for All, denounced the latest extra-judicial murder based on a rumor of blasphemy. Many points the finger at the police, unable to guarantee the safety of those arrested and to contain the madness of extremist groups, which often act driven by local religious leaders.

    The Catholic Diocese of Bahawalpur express a firm condemnation of the episiodo: Fr. Zafar Samuel speaks of an "inhumane act" and hopes the introduction of initiatives "aimed at creating greater awareness about the cases of blasphemy and associated laws." He is echoed by the Bishop of Islamabad-Rawalpindi, according to whom "taking the law into your own hands is not applying the law." It is time to "introduce some changes in legislation," added Bishop. Rufin Anthony, and to introduce laws that "protect the innocent and give security to the persons accused and on trial." "How much blood must still be shed - he ends - before the authorities understand that it is time for change."

    And the mind of the Christian community turns to Asia Bibi, the 46 year-old mother of five children, sentenced to death in November 2010 under the "black law" and now waiting for her appeal trail, locked in solitary confinement in Sheikhupura women's prison (in Punjab). For her release have also mobilized the Governor of Punjab Salman Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti, Minister for Religious Minorities: both were murdered last year, at the hands of Islamic extremists. Pope Benedict XVI launched an appeal for the liberation of Asia Bibi, tried physically and morally by long imprisonment.

    The blasphemy laws in the last 20 years have resulted in attacks against entire communities, as occurred in Shantinagar and Multan (1997), or in the recent past in Gojra (2009), with deaths and dozens of homes burned. According to data from the National Commission for Justice and Peace of the Catholic Church (NCJP), from 1986 to August 2009 at least 964 people were charged with desecrating the Koran or defaming the Prophet Muhammad. Among these 479 were Muslims, 119 Christians, 340 Ahmadis, 14 Hindus and 10 from other religions. It also provides a pretext for attacks, personal vendettas or extra-judicial killings: about 35 so far, made by individuals or mobs as in this case.

     

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    See also

    01/10/2015 PAKISTAN
    Gujrat: imprisoned for blasphemy, four Christians risk their lives. Government: No protection
    The Christian community, Catholic and Protestant, is ready to take to the streets in defense of pastor Aftab Gill and three others. The court has ignored their appeal and there is a strong risk of extrajudicial killing. They are in jail following a new case of abuse of the "black law". Muslim lawyer: innocent victims of a distorted system

    17/01/2011 PAKISTAN
    Christian women attacked, publicly humiliated in Lahore based on false blasphemy accusations
    Victims are now in a safe place because of the danger of more violence. A mob of angry Muslims beat and humiliated the two women, who are mother and daughter. The incident was triggered by a domestic dispute between them and the Muslim wife of their son and brother. A Pakistani priest says that unless there is separation between state and religion, Pakistan will slide into civil war.

    20/01/2011 PAKISTAN
    Pakistan government, a disappointment in fight against fundamentalism, says Justice and Peace
    NCJP executive secretary complains about government inaction, which is causing suffering to people. Human rights and full religious freedom are necessary conditions to “guarantee peace in the country”. Prime minister says he will not change blasphemy law. PML-Q leader says government policies are like those of dictator Zia-ul-Haq.

    18/01/2011 PAKISTAN
    Punjab: Asia Bibi to move to a women’s prison in Multan
    The transfer should occur within seven days. The step has become necessary to protect the life of the 45-year-old Christian mother of five because of death threats from Muslim fundamentalists. A Pakistani priest hopes the transfer will be done secretly to ensure maximum security. AsiaNews’ campaign on Bibi’s behalf has reached 8,700 signatures.

    08/01/2011 PAKISTAN
    Punjab: Salman Taseer’s assassin linked to Islamist movements
    Mumtaz Qadri affiliated with the conservative group Dawat-e-Islami. The fundamentalist leaders celebrate the killing and call for a boycott of the mourning for the death of the governor. Marches tomorrow in Karachi in favour of the blasphemy law. Catholics pray for Taseer and call for "thorough investigations" into killing.



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