Pakistani Imam call for Asia Bibi’s execution after the lynching of Mardan student
by Kamran Chaudhry

Islamic leaders want the hanging of a Christian mother as a deterrent to mass violence. They believe the behavior of students who killed and tortured one of their colleagues for alleged blasphemy is justifiable. Commission for Justice and Peace: "Universities should teach critical thinking, the virtues of tolerance, coexistence and acceptance."

Lahore (AsiaNews) - Pakistani Imam are calling for Asia Bibi, a Christian mother imprisoned for seven years on death row for alleged blasphemy, to be hanged. According to some well-known Islamic preachers, the lynching of the Mardan student, killed, stripped naked and tortured for allegedly insulting the Prophet, was caused by Asia and the fact that the alleged blasphemer has not yet been punished.

The Mufti Muhammad Haneef Qureshi said before the cameras: "If sinners declared blasphemous by the courts, were not granted extensions in their punishment, students would not act in this way. People have lost faith in the state, due to the carelessness of the institutions and their criminal silence. Incidents like that of Wali Khan University will continue as long as people feel insulted in their religious sentiments ".

Speaking to AsiaNews Fr. Emmanuel Yousaf Mani, director of the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) of the Pakistani Bishops' Conference, condemns the imams "misrepresentation": "They should look at the reality. They should discourage people from taking the law into their own hands. The mosques should stop these provocative announcements".

Just like the mufti, other imams have asked that the death sentence be carried out against Asia Bibi. According to Muslims, if the woman were hanged, her execution would act as a deterrent against mass violence. In this way the Islamic leaders justify the atrocious incident last week in the university campus of Mardan, where the 23 year old Mashal Khan was lynched to death on charges of having published comments in favor of the Ahmadi faith on Facebook.

Pervez Khattak, chief minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, said that there is no evidence that would confirm his guilt. Meanwhile, police arrested 22 people suspected of involvement in the lynching and opened a case against two imams from Swabi, the birthplace of Mashal Khan, who had tried to prevent the celebration of his funeral.

Fr. Mani appreciates the position taken by another Muslim leader, Shaikh Saleh Bin Muhammad Ibrahim, the imam of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, who criticized those who deliver false accusations of blasphemy. "Islam is a religion of peace - he said - forgiveness, tolerance. The faithful need to be guided and indoctrinated in the best way possible. "

In recent days, the Justice and Peace Commission also issued a press release which urges "the government of Pakistan to bring to justice those responsible for this hatred and extreme violence". By signing the document, Fr. Mani, Msgr. Joseph Arshad (Bishop of Faisalabad) and Cecil Shane Chaudhry (executive director of Ncjp), argue that "such violence and barbaric behavior is unacceptable. In the presence of the law, no one is justified in taking the law into their own hands. In addition, hateful and discriminatory material must be removed from school texts, if we want to create a peaceful and tolerant society. " "The university must develop critical thinking, acceptance of others' opinions regardless of the faith that is professed. We need to teach our students the virtues of tolerance, coexistence and acceptance. "