A religious leader was beaten to death after he addressed a political rally in yet another case of blasphemy-related violence in Pakistan.

Alleged blasphemous remarks

Maulana Nigar Alam, a local Muslim leader, was asked to address a meeting organised by former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party. In the speech, he allegedly made a blasphemous reference.

According to the locals, he should have referred to a political candidate who was “as pious as the prophet”, but this could not be confirmed.

The killing took place the evening after the PTI had held a meeting in Mardan where they protested against inflation and society’s many problems.

Mardan is a city with 250,000 inhabitants located approx. 150 kilometres northwest of Islamabad.

Trampled and beaten to death

According to the district police chief, during the meeting’s closing prayer, the victim had uttered some words that some in the crowd claimed were blasphemous. The police allegedly tried to bring him to safety in a shop, but the man was tricked into a trap and trampled and beaten to death in a narrow street:

The police tried to save the victim, but were powerless against the mob, which numbered 400-500 people. After he was killed, the mob tried to mutilate the body, but the police intervened and took the deceased into custody.

The police will contact the next of kin

The police officer went on to say that tensions in the area persist. The police have initiated legal proceedings and they will contact the deceased’s next of kin in this regard, according to Independent Urdu.

It is claimed that you can hear that the policemen and some in the crowd raise their voices not to kill the man from a video recording of the event.

There is a warning against unpleasant scenes:

Minister Azam Khan described the incident as unpleasant and sad, saying that political meetings should be limited to political activity and that people should not take the law into their own hands.

At least 88 blasphemy-related murders

Built into Pakistan’s blasphemy laws is a potential death sentence for anyone who insults Islam. Blasphemy is a hugely sensitive topic in Muslim Pakistan where alleged blasphemy can be sufficient to face punishment of life. Human rights advocates claim it is being used to settle personal feuds that have little or nothing to do with religion.

In February this year, a person accused of blasphemy was taken out of his cell at a police station in Lahore and killed.

In December 2021, a Sri Lankan national working as a factory manager in Pakistan was beaten to death and set on fire following allegations of blasphemy.

In 2017, a student was lynched on the university campus after a debate about religion in Mardan.

Religious forces will retain blasphemy laws

More than 2,000 people have been accused of blasphemy since 1987. At least 88 people have been killed following such allegations.

Pakistan’s government has long been under pressure to change the country’s blasphemy laws, but religious forces are strongly resisting.

The Guides Memorial Mardan in the centre of the city was built by the British in 1892 in memory of soldiers who fell in Kabul on September 23, 1879. Photo: Ghazanfar Ali Khan, Wikimedia Commons

Read also about the blasphemous QR code:

Pakistanis can be flamboyant people. In July last year, they walked out of their homes in protest against the South Korean company Samsung. What was special at the time was that the protests targeted a QR code and a wi-fi device which they claimed was conveying blasphemous content.

Les også

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