Christian leaders across Pakistan are demanding a trial and punishment for 47 suspects accused of lynching a university student after he was accused of committing blasphemy. In mid-April, Mashal Khan, a religious minority, was publicly accused of blasphemy. Shortly after, a mob of enraged Muslim university students attacks Khan’s dorm and killed the man. Police rounded up 47 suspects involved in the incident, including a man named Imran who has confessed to shooting Khan. Pakistan’s blasphemy law continues to be one of the main issues effecting persecuted Christians. False accusations, often fueled by religious hatred, have deadly consequences for religious minorities who stand accused.
05/04/2017 Pakistan (Asia News) – The arrest of 47 young people suspected of lynching a young man accused of blasphemy is dividing the nation.
Whilst some Islamic groups call for their release, Catholic and Protestant leaders demand a fair trial and the end of impunity for such violence.
“The government must reject any expediency and do what is good for the nation,” said Rev Shahid P. Meraj, dean of Lahore’s Anglican Cathedral of the Resurrection, speaking to Asia News.
“We want to honor the sacrifice of Mashal Khan (the victim) and we demand clear punishment for his assassins,” he added. “What we ask for is an impartial country that unfortunately is disappearing! For years we have been victims of these extremists. Politicians should go beyond power games and begin to save people’s lives.”
Khan was accused of blasphemy against Islam and killed by a violent mod at Abdul Wali Khan University in Mardan on 13 April.
Rev Meraj spoke at the wake for the dead man held on Sunday at the Liberty Roundabout by the Cecil and Iris Chaudry Foundation (CICF), an NGO that helps religious minorities. More than a hundred participants shouted slogans against religious extremism and mass violence under a blow-up of the dead student.
Several church leaders praised the police for arresting Imran, the first suspect in the assassination who was Khan’s schoolmate. In his confession, Imran claims that he shot Khan because he was guilty of blasphemy and that he was not sorry for murdering him. Mardan police said that 47 of the 49 suspects are in custody.
Last Friday, after Friday prayers, the Muttahida Ulema Council organized a demonstration near the office of the Mardan administrative district demanding the release of all the suspects.
At least 8,000 people shouted slogans such as: “Curse the blasphemers! Curse Mashal! Curse His Companions! Down with the useless and insolent Media!”