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.


Africa’s youngest billionaire free 9 days after abduction

Updated 5 min 54 sec ago
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Africa’s youngest billionaire free 9 days after abduction

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania: The man described as Africa’s youngest billionaire says he is free more than a week after his abduction from a luxury hotel in Tanzania’s commercial capital.
A statement by the 43-year-old Mohammed Dewji’s foundation does not give details about the Oct. 11 abduction or what led to his release. It thanks police for working for his “safe return.”
Dar es Salaam Regional Police Chief Lazaro Mambosasa confirms the release and says they continue to investigate.
Environment Minister January Makamba says he has spoken with Dewji and “he’s the usual Missouri So he is okay.”
Dewji was seized by two masked gunmen who fired into the air before driving away. Regional authorities said two white men were seen on surveillance video.
Forbes magazine in 2016 put Dewji’s wealth at $1.5 billion.