Man lynched after accusation of desecrating Qur’an

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A man was violently lynched by a mob after he was accused of desecrating the Qur’an in

Video footage circulated on social media shows the police station in Madyan on fire. (CSW)

the Madyan area of the Swat Valley in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkwa Province on 20 June.

The man’s identity has not been disclosed, however police officials reported that he was a tourist visiting from Sialkot in Punjab Province. He was reportedly first apprehended and handed over to the police, however shortly afterwards the accusations were broadcast over mosque loudspeakers, prompting a mob to gather outside the local police station.

After police refused to hand the accused over to them, members of the mob stormed the police station, seizing him and setting fire to the station and a police vehicle. The victim was shot and killed, and his body was set on fire.

Swat District Police Officer (DPO) Dr Zahidullah Khan reported that eight people were injured in the unrest, and that a heavy police force had been deployed in an effort to contain the situation.

Pakistan’s blasphemy laws remain highly controversial. They are frequently misused to settle personal vendettas or to target minority communities, and accusations of blasphemy can often incite mob violence or vigilante justice.

On 25 May 73-year-old Christian businessman Lazar (Nazir) Masih was violently attacked and hospitalised after he was accused of burning pages of the Qur’an in Mujahid Colony, Sargodha District, Punjab Province. He died from his injuries in the Combined Military Hospital (CMH) Rawalpindi in Punjab Province just over a week later on 3 June.

CSW’s Founder President Mervyn Thomas said: “Our hearts are heavy with the news of yet another extra-judicial killing following an accusation of blasphemy in Pakistan. We extend our deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of the victim and call on the police to ensure that all those responsible for his murder are brought to justice. Pakistan must do far more to prevent such horrific acts of violence, including by ending any and all impunity that surrounds those who take the law into their own hands, and repealing the blasphemy laws which are incompatible with the country’s commitments to freedom of religion or belief.”