Pakistani principal shot dead by student over blasphemy dispute

Pakistani police officers with riot gear stand guard at the University of Punjab following clashes between two student groups, in Lahore, Pakistan, on Monday. (AP)
Updated 23 January 2018
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Pakistani principal shot dead by student over blasphemy dispute

ISLAMABAD: A Pakistani student shot and killed his school principal on Monday, in a dispute over the student skipping classes to attend rallies supporting the country’s strict blasphemy laws, a police official said. Sareer Ahmed, principal of the private Islamia College in the northern town of Charsadda, had an argument with one of his students for missing a number of classes. The student then shot the principal on campus, local police chief Zahoor Afridi told Reuters.
He said the unnamed student had attended a sit-in staged by a new ultra-religious political party, Tehreek-e-Labaik, late last year to oppose a small change in wording to an electoral law, which it said amounted to blasphemy.
The protest, which brought the capital Islamabad to a standstill, ended in clashes between police and demonstrators that killed seven people and injured over 200. It also led the government to back down and accept the resignation of a minister accused of blasphemy.
“Obviously now he is going to say that he (the principal) committed blasphemy. This is a very unfortunate incident,” Afridi added.
Insulting Islam’s prophet is punishable by death under Pakistani law, and blasphemy accusations stir such emotions that they are difficult to defend against. Even a rumor of blasphemy can spark mob violence.
Police have taken the student, who appeared in photographs and video to be 16 or 17 years old, into custody and filed a first information report against him.
In a video recorded during the arrest, the student can be heard defending his actions in Pashto, a regional language.
“I committed this murder and I accepted it. It was ordered by God,” he proclaimed.
There was widespread outrage across Pakistan last April when student Mashal Khan was beaten to death at his university in Mardan following a dormitory debate about religion.
Police arrested 57 people, including students and some faculty members, in connection with the killing.
There have been at least 67 murders over unproven allegations of blasphemy since 1990, according to figures from a research center and independent records kept by Reuters.
In 2011, a bodyguard assassinated Punjab provincial governor Salman Taseer after he called for the blasphemy laws to be reformed. Taseer’s killer, executed last year, has been hailed as a martyr by religious hard-liners.


Davos 2019: Middle East high on agenda as global leaders gather at WEF

Updated 11 min 53 sec ago
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Davos 2019: Middle East high on agenda as global leaders gather at WEF

  • The third day of panels is taking place in Switzerland
  • Future of Saudi Arabia on the agenda

DAVOS: The third day of panels and addresses is taking place in Davos, Switzerland on Thursday. Follow Arab News' live coverage below...

9:45 — The Middle East security outlook is being discussed — check out the live video below. Speakers include Ayman Al-Safadi, Jordan’s minister of foreign affairs and expatriates; Mohamed Ali Alhakim, Iraq’s minister of foreign affairs; Rached Ghannouchi, leader of Tunisia’s Ennahda Party; and Majid Jafar, CEO of Crescent Petroleum.

 

8:15 — Saudi Arabia’s ambitious reform plans were discussed in an early Davos panel, with speakers including Minister of Finance Mohammed Al-Jadaan, Minister of Economy and Planning Mohammad Al-Tuwaijri, and Saudi Stock Exchange Chairperson Sarah Al-Suhaimi.

 

 

8:00 — Good morning from a chilly Davos. The Middle East is a key theme at the forum today, with an early morning discussion on the future of Saudi Arabia, the region's security outlook set to come under the microscope, and a discussion with Omar Al Razzaz, Prime Minister of Jordan. Keep up to date with our live blog.