Last week, a university student from a religious minority in Pakistan was murdered by other university students after he was accused of committing blasphemy. False accusations of blasphemy in Pakistan often precipitate instances of mob violence and sometimes extra-judicial killing. Following the brutal murder, which was filmed on mobile phones, many Christians in Pakistan were reminded that prayer is needed to reforms Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws.
04/20/2017 Pakistan (Mission Network News) – A week ago today, an Abdul Wali Khan University (AWKU) journalism student, 23-year-old Mashal Khan, along with another student, were attacked by students on the university campus.
“Hundreds to thousands of students participated in the riot. In fact, police were tipped off that this was going to occur and they had 20 officers on the site who stood by and did nothing,” FMI’s Bruce Allen shares.
These students, or rioters, accused Khan of allegedly posting blasphemous content on his social media accounts.
Blasphemy in Pakistan is loosely described as any thought/attitude which disagrees with the majority religion–Islam. For example, blasphemy is as simple as speaking against or dishonoring the prophet Muhammed. It can also be speaking against the Koran.
Blasphemy is also considered a capital offense in Pakistan. If someone is convicted of blasphemy, then they face the death penalty.
And unfortunately, the riot didn’t end until Khan had been shot and beaten to death. Following his death, an investigation was launched to determine whether or not these allegations of blasphemy were true. As it turns out, Khan was innocent.
Currently, it is unclear if Khan’s killer(s) will be made to answer for their actions. However, Khan’s tragic death puts a spotlight on a major problem in Pakistan regarding both censorship and the blasphemy law.
“Once an allegation of blasphemy is leveled against anyone—whether it’s another Muslim, whether is a Christian or someone else from a minority religion—their life is basically forfeit,” Allen explains.
“Whether they spend the rest of their life in jail, or, [their case] never even gets to trial because people try and seek their own form of justice and often it is so skewed.”