In Pakistan, the Blasphemy Law is often used to violently strike fear, tyrannize common people and to silence the free thinkers. Under cover of the Blasphemy Law, oppression, barbarism and murder someone (innocent) on the basis of rumors and hearsay have become a routine in Pakistan. Today, a devout Muslim becomes a blasphemer while an intolerant fanatic becomes a hero in Pakistan. The recent example of how extreme blasphemy has become in Pakistan is the gruesome murder of Mashal Khan.
On 13th April 2017, a video of vigilante mob lynching a 23-year-old boy in Pakistan broke the internet and questioned human conscience. This 23-year-old boy was Mashal Khan, a journalism student at the Abdul Wali Khan University in Mardan who was brutally murdered over an accusation of posting Blasphemy content on social Media. Ironically, while scrolling through his Facebook account, we found Ghalib’s poetry and posts about human rights in Pakistan.
Mashal’s social media posts show him as a free thinker who was deeply concerned about human rights, equality, and the intolerance in the Pakistani society. All he spoke through his posts was truth and about intolerance in Pakistan. So, it was not that Mashal disrespected Prophet (SAW) in any sense and he was killed over committing blasphemy. In fact, he was killed for rejecting the fanatical intolerance created by religious zealots in Pakistan. It was this extremism that claimed his life.
Mashal was killed by hundreds of students in the place of learning, in the university, over a false allegation of blasphemy. Mashal was in his hostel room when a mob of around hundred students approached him carrying sticks and rods. While he was figuring out what was happening he was beaten brutally and thrown from the second floor of the hostel building. No one gave a hand to Mashal as everyone was fearful at the sight of this insanity but yet holy according to them. Then, the mob shot him dead but no, they weren’t satisfied yet. So, they were still roaring and preying on the dead body of Mashal. They ripped apart Mashal’s clothes from his dead body and still kept striking him with rods and sticks. Some of them were making videos and many were gaining sadistic pleasure while breaking every bone of Mashal’s dead body.
When Mashal was in Moscow pursuing civil engineering, he would miss the streets and people of his land. So, now it was the time for him to live in his village and bring a change in the society. His liberal thoughts which held the power of vanishing the extreme thoughts of fanatics. So, the fanatics just finished Mashal in the name of blasphemy. When Mashal’s dead body reached his home, his mother held his hands and could found that all his fingers were broken. Before his father would have grieved about his son’s death, he had to first fight for clearing all the charges of blasphemy that was forced on his son.
More inhuman was when the Moulvi of the local mosque, where Mashal used to often visit for prayers refused to perform his funeral. What he could do was roaring in a loudspeaker and warn people “Whoever attends Mashal’s funeral has to renew their marriage.” Later, when a man was found to perform Mashal’s last rites, he was too tortured by extremists.
When the Police arrived at the location for inquiry these mobs were seen congratulating themselves for killing a blasphemer. These men took vows of not exposing the name of the man who shot Mashal Khan. They warned if anyone reveals the name of the shooter then he would be considered an apostate. So far some 45 people have been arrested and cases have been registered against 20 but most probably they will be set free as they are holy and they have eliminated a blasphemer.
Mashal’s father, friends and other citizens of Pakistan are protesting against blasphemy laws in Pakistan but whether Mashal will get justice or not is still a big question mark.
Written by Faraaah Khan