Pakistan: Christian mother-son lynched by Islamist mob over blashphemy
A Christian woman named Yasmin and her son Usman Masih were brutally killed by a Muslim mob led by Muhammad Hassan and others in Kathor Kalan village in Gujranwala, Pakistan.
The gruesome lynching of the Christian mother-son duo reportedly took place in the name of blasphemy. According to activist Rahat Austin, Yasmin was shot dead by Mohammad Hassan. His son, severely injured, died minutes later as he desperately clung to his wife’s hands while his two daughters saw their father dying.
The activist further mentions that the crowd gathered at the spot watched the specter of violence unleashed against the Christian family, with none of them coming forward to help them.
Pakistan PM Imran Khan’s remarks rationalising Samuel Paty’s killing emboldens fundamentalists
The incident which has its roots in blasphemy occurred days after Pakistani Prime Minister issued a clarion call to the Islamic world to unite against ‘growing Islamophobia’ in the aftermath of the merciless beheading of a French teacher, Samuel Paty. He was killed and decapitated for showing the caricatures of Prophet Muhammad published by French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in his classroom.
Paty’s decapitation had triggered sharp disapproval from French President Emmanuel Macron, who raised concern over the ominous spread of Islamism and emphasised the need to foster an “Islam of enlightenment”. Macron’s sharp rebuke was also accompanied by sweeping measures ordered by the French government to suppress extremism.
Macron’s statement and action instituted by France in the aftermath of the Samuel Paty killing served as fodder for the leaders of the Islamic world, who made a beeline to rationalise the blasphemous murder of the French teacher and lay the blame on the Western world for hurting the religious sensitivities of the Muslims.
Turkish President Recep Erdogan, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and several others issued incendiary statements, with a view to gin up anti-western sentiments and justify violence in the name of blasphemy. Many believe such rationalising remarks from Islamic leaders have served to embolden the fundamentalists in their respective countries to take a more hardened approach to deal with the criticism of Islam.
Plight of minorities in Pakistan and rising cases of violence over blasphemy
As such Pakistan has a poor record of safeguarding its minorities population and blasphemy is used as an instrument to target the minorities. Christian and Hindu minorities in Pakistan live under a constant threat of being persecuted by the Muslim extremists in the country. Girls belonging to the minority communities are routinely abducted, forcibly married and converted into Islam by the Muslim fundamentalists. Non-compliance or resistance have often led to their murder.
Just a few days back, another killing over blasphemy had come to the fore in Pakistan. A bank manager was shot dead by the security guard over a purported blasphemy allegation. Videos of the crowd cheering the security guard for killing the Bank Manager had gone viral on the internet.
In one such viral video shared by Pakistani activist Rahat Austin, Ahmad Nawaz, the security guard who shot a manager of the National Bank of Pakistan branch in Quaidabad tehsil of Khushab, accusing him of blasphemy, is seen leading a fanatic crowd of supporters which greets him and raises slogans in his favour as they walk together on the street. Amidst loud cheers and slogans, one person appears from the crowd and kisses the guard.
Even the Pakistani legal system appears to side with the fundamentalists as far as blasphemy is concerned. In September 2020, a Pakistani court in Lahore convicted a Christian man to death under the controversial ‘blasphemy’ law. The Lahore Session Court sentenced 37-year-old Asif Pervaiz Masih for insulting Islam and sending ‘blasphemous’ texts to a former supervisor at work. Masih was arrested in 2013 for alleged blasphemy.
Recently, in a brutal incident, an elderly man belonging to the minority Islamic sect of Ahmadiyyas, who was facing a trial for ‘blasphemy’, was shot dead in front of the judge in a local court situated in a high-security zone in Pakistan’s Peshawar city.
Tahir Ahmad Naseem, who was arrested on the charges of blasphemy two years ago, died on the spot in the court of Additional Session Judge Shaukatullah Khan after being shot at. The man on trial was facing charges for ‘insulting’ the Muslim Prophet Muhammad.
After the incident, shockingly, the Islamists in Pakistan had turned Khalid Khan—the man who shot dead Tahir Ahmed Naseem into a ‘hero’ as people took to social media to hail him as the ‘Lion of Islam’ for killing the ‘blasphemer’.
In a similar case, Aasia Bibi, a 48-year-old mother of four was convicted in 2010 for insulting Islam. She maintained her innocence but spent eight years in solitary confinement. Later she was acquitted by the Pakistan Supreme Court and had to escape to Canada. Salman Taseer, who was the former Punjab governor was also killed by his own guard in 2011 after he sought mercy for Asia Bibi.