Random Arabic text on a dress, QR codes, baseless allegations: How Islamic fanatic population in Pakistan has been lynching people to death

Pakistani flag

On 25th February, the world received another shock from Pakistan as a woman wearing a dress with Arabic alphabets almost got lynched by an agitated mob. Someone in Pakistan saw the dress of the woman and assumed it had “Allah” written on it, deeming it blasphemous.

Shortly after, the woman was surrounded by religious hounds raising ‘Sar Tan Se Juda’ slogans. She was seen begging for her life. A brave female police officer rescued her from the mob and took her into custody for further investigation. The history of fanatic mob lynching in Pakistan is disturbing.

A video of the woman emerged on social media apologising for the alleged “sacrilege” she committed. She apologised to everyone in her statement, though there was no intention to hurt religious sentiments. The Kuwait-based brand that made the dress urged the people of Pakistan not to message them over the matter. They reminded everyone that they use Arabic texts in different fonts because, wait for it, it is “THEIR LANGUAGE”.

While the incident had a shock value, this is not the first time Islamists living in Pakistan resorted to violence and barbarism because they thought someone did something ‘blasphemous’. Let’s start with “blasphemous” QR codes that generated quite a stir.

The QR code mayhem

In January 2022, a video of a man from Pakistan went viral on social media where he was seen threatening American company Pepsi for printing a QR code with the name of “Prophet Muhammad” on its 7UP bottles. The man identified himself as Mulla. He threatened the driver of the truck that was transporting 7UP bottles. He said the driver would face dire consequences if the QR code were not removed.

Man named Mullah threatened Pepsi of consequences claiming QR code on 7UP had the word “Allah”

He insisted that the QR code was the name of the Prophet, and if the company did not remove it, he would burn the truck. The video was recorded by a social media user who tried to convince the agitated Islamist, but it did not help. The agitated Islamist threatened the social media user with consequences.

In July 2022, Samsung became the target of fanatics as its QR codes were deemed blasphemous. Reportedly, dozens of Islamists of the extremist Barelvi organisation Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) unleashed mayhem in the mobile market of Karachi, Pakistan, after rumours of alleged blasphemy against the company.

The protestors tore down the billboards of Samsung in the mobile market in the city and indulged in vandalism after they heard that the company had committed ‘blasphemy’ against Islam. From QR code to name of WiFi network were deemed blasphemous by the mob so that they could continue burning things.

27 employees of Samsung were detained by the police in Karachi over claims that they were using a WiFi network whose name was insulting to Ummayad Dynasty Caliph Muavia.

Sri Lankan man brutally murdered in Pakistan by a large mob

In December 2021, a heart-breaking incident of fanatics lynching a man over blasphemy took place in Pakistan. A Sri Lankan man, Priyantha Kumara, was tortured and burnt to death by an angry Islamist mob that believed in rumours of blasphemy. The incident took place on Wazirabad Road in Sialkot, where reportedly, the workers of private factories attacked the export manager of a factory and burnt his body after killing him. Barbaric visuals of a large mob of hundreds of people lynching and then burning the body of Kumara went viral on social media.

A video of the incident emerged on social media where the angry mob can be heard chanting “Nara e Taqbeer” and “Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah”. Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah means “Here I am at your service, O Messenger of Allah”. Other slogans that could be heard as the fanatics burnt the man to death were ‘gustakh-e-nabi ki ek hi saza, sar tan se juda sar tan se juda’.

Hindu teacher sentenced over false allegations of blasphemy

In February 2022, a Pakistani court sentenced Notan Lal, a Hindu teacher, to life imprisonment on the charges of blasphemy. Lal, owner and principal of a private school, was accused of ‘insulting’ Prophet Muhammad during an Urdu class as charged by a student named Muhammad Ihtisham, who later said he had lied. In September 2019, an FIR was filed against the Hindu principal of the Sindh Public School for allegedly passing derogatory remarks against Prophet Muhammad.

After the false accusation by the student, violence and vandalism were unleashed by residents of Ghotki. Local Islamists vandalised the school and destroyed a Hindu temple in the area. The Police, to control the situation and avoid further damage, detained Lal under Article 295 (c) of the Pakistan Penal Code.

The demonstrators had already vandalized three temples, a private school and multiple houses belonging to the Hindu community, posing a threat to the minority community in Pakistan. Lal was taken into custody and was questioned about the incident. Also, the child Muhammad Ihtisham was interrogated. Ibtisam had then confirmed the allegations that Lal ‘insulted’ the prophet during a lesson on his life and travel between two holy cities.

Hindu boy arrested over blasphemy charges

Man brutally beaten to death over blasphemy

In February 2023, a man was brutally lynched to death by a fanatic mob over alleged blasphemy. The incident took place at a police station. Reportedly, the victim, identified as Muhammad Waris, had been taken into custody for allegedly desecrating the Quran. They said news of the alleged crime outraged residents, and hundreds of them later surrounded the police station, demanding Waris be handed over to them. Seeing the massive violent crowd, police officers fled the facility. Protesters grabbed the man and dragged him out to the street, where they beat him to death.

Man lynched for comparing Imran Khan to Prophet

In May 2023, a fanatic mob lynching took place in Pakistan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Mardan after a man was accused of blasphemy during a rally of Imran Khan’s political outfit Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). A video went viral on social media, in which several people can be seen beating the man violently. The mob even dragged and were seen beating mercilessly the lifeless body of a man believed to be in his 40s in the Sawal Dher area. The deceased has been identified as Maulana Nigar Alam. He was accused of announcing before the crowd at a Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) rally that he respects PTI chairman Imran Khan like a Prophet as he is honest. His comments did not go well with the people present at the scene, and he was lynched.

Akbar Ram arrested for ‘insulting Islam’

In August 2023, a Hindu man named Akbar Ram was arrested in Punjab province, Pakistan, after he was accused of blasphemy. The Pakistan police claimed they stopped him to “save his life” from a fanatic mob lynching. Akbar Ram was a Rahim Yar Khan district resident, some 400 km from Lahore.

A man named Faisal Munir filed a complaint against him and produced two witnesses to prove his allegations. He claimed that Akbar Ram came to his shop and made “insulting” remarks against the holy places of Muslims and also Islam. Ram has reportedly been booked under Pakistan’s Blasphemy law and Punjab Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance.

Christian attacked in Pakistan

In August 2023, a Christian man became a victim of lynching by a fanatic mob in Pakistan. The man was killed in the Punjab province of Pakistan. The victim’s house was looted, and his belongings were thrown out. A video surfaced on social media where the mob was seen gathered in the streets while gunshots could be heard in the background.”

Christian couple arrested for blasphemy

Just a month after the murder of a Christian man, a Christian couple was arrested in Pakistan for allegedly desecrating a copy of the Holy Quran in Lahore on Saturday. Taimur, a resident of Harbanspura, filed a complaint with the police, saying he was standing at a food shop on a street near the Rangers headquarters when he saw some pages being thrown from the roof of a nearby house. He picked up the pages, which were found to be from the Holy Quran.

Blasphemy in Pakistan

Pakistan has suffered widespread communal violence and riots over perceived blasphemy against Prophet Muhammad. An unfavourable reference to Prophet Muhammad, or what is referred to as ‘Blasphemy,’ is frequently used by Islamists as a rallying cry to commit violence and communal rioting against ‘non-believers.’ There have been myriad reports of violence and barbarity committed against non-Muslims in the name of blasphemy and desecration of Prophet Muhammad.

All that is needed to rile a mob to go on a lynching, killing, burning rampage is a vague claim that some person has ‘insulted’ Islam, just like the claim against Priyantha Kumara and the woman in the dress with Arabic letters.

The rising number of fanatic lynching incidents over alleged blasphemy in Pakistan should concern everyone. It highlights a troubling trend of intolerance and violence among the general public. It is the failure of the law enforcement of Pakistan to protect individuals from mob justice and street veto.

Fanaticism over religion has reached such an extent in Pakistan that thousands of Pakistanis had marched against French products, just because the President of France had chosen to stand with the Charlie Hebdo magazine’s right to free speech. Pakistanis are often seen denouncing other Muslims in Saudi Arabia and UAE as ‘not Muslim enough’ and shaming them for not being as fanatic as them.

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