Sunday, July 14, 2024

Rising Tide of Blasphemy-Related Violence in Pakistan: Teenager Murders Shia Man

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In a tragic escalation of blasphemy-related violence in Pakistan, a 14-year-old boy fatally stabbed 55-year-old Shia man Nazir Hussain Shah in Kunjah, Gujrat, Punjab province. This shocking incident, occurring just 170 km from Lahore, marks the second murder in four days, highlighting a deeply concerning trend.

The Incident

On Sunday, June 23, a young boy, reportedly incited by his father and uncle, attacked Nazir Hussain Shah, stabbing him multiple times. Police report that the teenager acted on allegations from his father, a Sunni mosque’s prayer leader, and his uncle, who accused Shah of making derogatory remarks about the Prophet’s companions. Enraged, the teenager grabbed a knife from home, confronted Shah, and fatally injured him before fleeing.

Legal Actions and Arrests

Police have launched a manhunt for the minor suspect, filing a case against him, his father, and uncle following a complaint by Shah’s brother, Shabeer Hussain Shah. Dawn, a leading Pakistani news outlet, has described the incident as a sectarian argument, reflecting heightened local tensions.

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Escalating Violence

This tragic incident is part of a distressing pattern. Just days earlier, on June 20, a mob lynched a man in Swat district, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, accusing him of Quran desecration. Despite police custody, the mob forcibly removed and brutalized the victim, igniting widespread outrage captured in viral video footage.

In May, in Sargodha city’s Mujahid Colony, another violent incident unfolded when an elderly Christian man, Nazir Masih, faced a fatal mob lynching over baseless blasphemy allegations. The mob ransacked Masih’s property and set him ablaze, revealing deep-seated communal tensions.

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Government and Public Reaction

Defence Minister Khawaja Asif acknowledged escalating violence against minorities in Parliament, condemning daily killings linked to personal vendettas rather than evidence-backed blasphemy claims.

Recent legislation by the National Assembly condemned mob lynchings, underscoring persistent blasphemy accusations against over 2,120 individuals since 1987, as reported by Dawn. The USCIRF 2023 report detailed threats and violence against religious minorities, calling for urgent systemic reforms.

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The murder of Nazir Hussain Shah underscores the devastating impact of unchecked blasphemy accusations in Pakistan. Urgent legal and societal reforms are needed to address religious intolerance in Pakistan!

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