ISLAMABAD: A teenager walked into a Pakistani police station yesterday and shot dead a 65-year-old man from a minority sect accused of blasphemy, their spokesman said, the second murder involving the country’s controversial blasphemy laws in as many weeks.
Rights activists said the attack, and a spike in the number of blasphemy cases, was evidence of rising intolerance in the mainly Sunni South Asian state of 180 million people.
Victim Khalil Ahmad was a member of the minority Ahmadi community, a sect who say they are Muslim but whose religion is rejected by the Pakistani state. Ahmad and three other Ahmadis had asked a shopkeeper in their village in central Pakistan earlier this week to remove inflammatory stickers denouncing their community, said Saleem ud Din, a spokesman for the Ahmadi community.
In retaliation, the shopkeeper filed blasphemy charges against the four men on May 12. Ahmad, a father of four, was in police custody when the teenage boy walked in, asked to see him, and shot him dead, Din said.
He said police told him that the shooter, a high school student, had been arrested.
“They told us the person who shot Mr Khalil is just a boy,” Din said. “The hate campaign carried out against us by the mullahs is going on and on and on.”
Khalil was killed in Sharaqpur police station, about 55kms northwest of the Punjab provincial capital of Lahore.
Some mullahs promise that killing Ahmadis earns a place in heaven and give out leaflets listing their home addresses.
The Ahmadis consider themselves Muslim but believe in a prophet who came after Mohammed.
A 1984 Pakistani law declared them nonMuslims, which makes them particularly vulnerable to the country’s blasphemy law.
The colonial-era law does not define blasphemy but says it is punishable by death. Anyone can file a blasphemy case claiming their religious feelings are injured for any reason. Reuters