Campus murder by mob for blasphemy

A 23 year old was killed by a mob of fellow students in a University in Pakistan. Mashal was killed by the mob for alleged disrespect for Sunni Islam.

MARDAN: Hundreds of students beat to death a classmate known for his liberal views on a university campus in the country’s conservative northwest Thursday, police and witnesses said.

Mashal Khan, a journalism student, was stripped, beaten, shot, and thrown from the second floor of his hostel at the Abdul Wali Khan university in Mardan, sources at the university said.Graphic video footage from the scene shows dozens of men outside the hostel kicking and hurling projectiles at a body sprawled on the ground.

Blasphemy is a hugely sensitive charge in the conservative Muslim country, and can carry the death penalty. Even unproven allegations can cause mob lynchings and violence.

Image Credit : Samaa TV

An eyewitness at the scene of the incident said Mashal and Abdullah, two Mass Communication students, were attacked because they were believed to be “promoting the Ahmadi faith on Facebook”.
The eyewitness said a mob of university students first surrounded Abdullah and forced him to recite verses from the Holy Quran. Although he repeatedly denied the accusation that he was an Ahmadi, the students beat him nonetheless.

The police, when alerted, reached the site of the attack and rescued Abdullah, after which the mob set its sights on Mashal, who was in the hostel at the time, the eyewitness said.

Mashal was beaten and shot by the mob and succumbed to the injuries he received.

Video footage of the incident showed Mashal lying on the floor surrounded by men. The student was not moving and his body bore marks of severe torture. Men could be seen kicking his lifeless body and beating it with wooden planks.

Towards the end of the video, he was pulled from his clothes by an unidentified man.
A student requesting anonymity said several leaders of the university’s student bodies were part of the attacking mob.

Room of Mashal Khan – AFP

One of Mashal’s teachers later told Reuters that he was a passionate and critical student.

“He was brilliant and inquisitive, always complaining about the political system of the country, but I never heard him saying anything controversial against the religion,” the teacher said.

University administration official Fayaz Ali Shah confirmed that the mob of students had killed Mashal over allegations of ‘blasphemy’.

He said over 20 officers had arrived at the scene, were unable to control the situation because there were so many students involved.
Hostel warden Muhammad Ali, recounting the incident, claimed that: “Three to four thousand students were approaching. I was alerted that they were approaching, so I closed the gates but they broke in, found Mashal and fired at him and started beating him.”

Students said police had been alerted of the incident and were present on campus at the time. When asked why they didn’t intervene, police said there were “too many people” in the mob for them to take on.

Khan was “disliked by other students for being liberal and secular and not following a religious code of life and not attending Friday prayers,” the official said.

Whenever religious fundamentalists commit crimes in the name of offended sentiments you will see press reports defending the victim saying he did not offend the religious sentiments, implying if he had really done that he deserved to be punished. This happened in the Hindutva terror incidents in India as well. Press reports stressed it was not beef in the fridge and the nurdered Cattle farmers had valid license to transport cows. Such reports do legitimize violence in the name of hurt sentiments.

Religion, when it really hits the head, makes people so filled with hatred and violence that no one can stop the theists from committing horrific crimes. When it is mixed with politics and power it becomes even more dangerous. Then it is easy to find someone to hate and attack. The naive theist will believe the most violent attacker is the fiercest protector of the creed and will flock behind him. Thus, the hate politics spirals out of control.

If Hindutva rule continues and BJP government is voted back to power in India once more, we can expect similar lynching in Indian campuses in the name of hurt sentiments.

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