Saturday, January 22, 2022

Sri Lankan factory manager lynched and set on fire in Pakistan

Local media say the incident was linked to alleged blasphemy, a galvanising issue in Pakistan where even the slightest suggestion of an insult to Islam can supercharge protests and incite lynchings.

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A Sri Lankan factory manager in Pakistan was on Friday beaten to death and set ablaze by a mob, police confirmed, in an incident local media reported was linked to alleged blasphemy.

Few issues are as galvanising in Pakistan as blasphemy, and even the slightest suggestion of an insult to Islam can supercharge protests and incite lynchings.

Rights groups say accusations can often be wielded to settle personal vendettas, with minorities largely the target.

Police told AFP that Friday’s incident took place in Sialkot, about 200km southeast of the capital Islamabad.

Several gruesome video clips shared on social media showed a mob beating the prone victim while chanting slogans against blasphemy.

Other clips showed his body set ablaze, as well as the overturned wreckage of what was said to be his car.

Many in the mob made no attempt to hide their identity and some took selfies in front of the burning corpse.

“I am extremely shocked at the horrific Sialkot incident,” Punjab provincial chief minister Usman Buzdar tweeted.

“No one is allowed to take law in their hands. Rest assured, individuals involved in this inhumane act will not be spared!!”

Punjab police said they would investigate “all aspects” of the incident.

The slogans chanted in the social media videos were the same used by supporters of the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) – an anti-blasphemy party.

The TLP has in the past paralysed the country with protests, including an anti-France campaign after Paris-based satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo last year republished cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad.

On Sunday thousands of people torched a police station in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province after demanding officers hand over a man accused of burning the Quran.

In April 2017 an angry mob lynched university student Mashal Khan when he was accused of posting blasphemous content online.

A Christian couple was lynched then burnt in a kiln in Punjab in 2014 after being falsely accused of desecrating the Quran.

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