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Pakistani mob burns down police station over ‘blasphemy’. It just takes an allegation

Several local leaders of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl, a Deobandi Sunni political party, staged a demonstration demanding punishment for the accused.

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In yet another violent attack over rumors of blasphemy in Pakistan, a mob torched a police station in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Charsadda district Sunday after police refused to hand over the man allegedly accused of desecrating the Quran. According to the Mandani circle DSP Ishaq, the accused is “mentally unstable and he cannot speak” and has been taken to an unknown location.

Many Twitter users in Pakistan, including politicians, journalists, and activists, condemned the violent act. While human rights activist Salem Javed claimed that the incident occurred due to the “systematic Islamisation of the country”, a former parliamentarian pointed out “what a mere allegation of blasphemy can do in Pakistan”.

Zia Ur Rehman, a senior reporter with The News International, one of the leading English newspapers in the country, who also occasionally writes for The New York Times, said, “In Pakistan, mobs can kill anyone and torch any building or entire neighborhood merely on allegations or rumors of blasphemy. Today, it is in Chrasadda”

Farahnaz Ispahani, a former member of Pakistan parliament wrote, “What a mere allegation of #blasphemy can do in #Pakistan”.

Journalist and human rights activist Salem Javed wrote, “This is what #Pakistan’s institutional and systematic Islamisation of the country has resulted to”.

Kashif N Chaudhry, a Pakistan born physician and human rights activist based in Pennsylvania, claimed that the police station was set on fire allegedly by a Sunni extremist mob who demanded to hand over the mentally ill man who, according to them, had burnt a page with a Quranic verse inscribed on it.

Sharing a video of the mob torching the police station, Chaudhary wrote, “Pakistan’s #Charsadda police station set on fire by Sunni extremist mob demanding mentally ill man accused of alleged “blasphemy” (allegedly burning a page with a Quranic verse inscribed on it) be handed over for mob lynching. Madness!!”.

Rabia Mehmood, journalist and researcher at International Media Women’s Foundation,

a non-governmental organisation aimed at providing safety training, reporting trips, and byline opportunities to female journalists across the world, condemned the act, saying “Pakistanis have a years long history of putting people w/mental illnesses behind bars for blasphemy and/or lynching them”.

In another tweet, he wrote, “Blasphemy is a weapon that is often used to persecute religious minorities in Pakistan. In the process, citizens who are mentally ill have occasionally been booked for blasphemy or lunched by angry mobs”.

While Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Law minister Fazle Shakoor Khan warned that “The government will not allow anyone to take the law into their own hands” and that “the suspect who has been arrested will be proceeded against in accordance with the law”, several local leaders of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl, a Deobandi Sunni political party in Pakistan, staged a demonstration in Mandani bazaar, demanding punishment for the accused.

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