Pakistan hate speech investigation against clerics after student killed for alleged blasphemy

Villagers carry a body of a student Mohammad Mashal for burial in Swabi, Pakistan(AP Photo)
Updated 16 April 2017

Pakistan hate speech investigation against clerics after student killed for alleged blasphemy

PESHAWAR: Pakistani police opened a hate speech investigation involving two Muslim clerics on Sunday after the killing of a university student over allegations he committed blasphemy.
The clerics are accused of attempting to disrupt the funeral of student Mashal Khan, who was beaten to death by fellow students after a dormitory debate was followed by accusations of blasphemy being spread across a university campus in the northern city of Maradan.
University officials had issued a public notification hours before the murder naming three students being investigated for “blasphemous activities.”
Blasphemy is an extremely sensitive topic in Muslim majority Pakistan, where penalties range from small fines to the death sentence, and dozens of people are on death row in the country’s jails.
There have been at least 65 recorded cases of vigilante murders since 1990, according to figures from a Center for Research and Security Studies report and local media.
In a statement released to the press on Saturday, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said he was “shocked and saddened by the senseless display of mob justice that resulted in the murder of a young student, Mashal Khan, at Wali Khan University.”
Mardan police chief Alam Shinwari said 20 people had been identified as culpable in the killing on the basis of videos taken during the attack, and 15 had been arrested. He said they would be tried by anti-terrorism courts.
Police say they are also investigating the clerics in Khan’s hometown of Swabi, some 60 kilometers south of Mardan, for attempting to disrupt funeral proceedings and instigate hatred against the dead student’s family.
“The two clerics ... the mosque loudspeaker for hate speech against the slain student and his family and ... created hurdles for the people and another cleric to participate in the funeral,” a senior Swabi police official told Reuters. He spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of being targeted by religious hard-liners.
A local imam had refused to lead the funeral prayers at Khan’s funeral on Friday, according to Swabi resident Salman Ahmed. A technician who was asked to do so in the cleric’s place was confronted by several people afterwards.
In his press release, the prime minister said the perpetrators of the attack would be brought to justice.
“The nation should stand united to condemn this crime and to promote tolerance and rule of law in society,” Sharif said.
However, Pakistan’s government has been vocal about blasphemy in recent months, with Sharif issuing an order in March for the removal of content deemed blasphemous online and threatening “strict punishment” for those violating the law.


Trump says Baghdadi successor in US crosshairs

Updated 47 min 56 sec ago

Trump says Baghdadi successor in US crosshairs

  • The US president used his speech in New York to claim that Daesh’s leadership was running scared in the wake of Baghdadi’s death
  • Donald Trump: Thanks to American warriors, Al-Baghdadi is dead, his second in charge is dead, we have our eyes on number three

NEW YORK: US President Donald Trump placed the Daesh group’s new chief in the crosshairs Monday as he marked Veterans’ Day by celebrating the killing of the extremists’ former leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi.

While US presidents traditionally mark the day by laying a wreath at a vast military cemetery in Arlington, near Washington, Trump traveled to New York where he made an address ahead of the city’s annual parade of veterans.

Trump was widely criticized after announcing a full withdrawal of US troops from Syria last month, with opponents and even some allies saying it could allow Daesh to rebuild as well as leaving US-allied Kurdish fighters vulnerable to a Turkish invasion.

But the US president used his speech in New York to claim that Daesh’s leadership was running scared in the wake of Baghdadi’s death in a raid in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib on October 26.

“Just a few weeks ago, American special forces raided the Daesh compound and brought the world’s number one terrorist leader to justice,” he said.

“Thanks to American warriors, Al-Baghdadi is dead, his second in charge is dead, we have our eyes on number three.

“His reign of terror is over, and we have our enemies running very, very scared. Those who threaten our people don’t stand a chance against the righteous might of the American military.”

After the death of Baghdadi and Daesh’s main spokesman, Abu Hassan Al-MuHajjir, in a raid the following day, the organization named the little known Abu Ibrahim Al-Hashimi Al-Quraishi as its new leader.

Following the uproar over his announcement of a full troop withdrawal, Trump said that he would leave some troops in the region to protect valuable oil fields.

General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in an interview at the weekend that US troop levels in northern Syria would probably stabilize at around 500.