The jury and the executioner: Misusing the blasphemy law for personal vengeance

By Raza Habib Raja

A few days ago, I came across a headline that shook me to the core. A student killed his principal in Charsadda, on the pretext that the man had committed blasphemy by merely reprimanding him for his absence from school.

The student had skipped school to attend the infamous Faizabad sit-in. The fact that the dharna was supposedly conducted for the protection of the finality of prophethood, and his principal indirectly rebuking him for attending it, was enough for the student to justify killing him.

Over the past several years, I have witnessed several incidents in which blasphemy was used as a pretext for framing and killing individuals. There have been instances where people have used the blasphemy law to accuse someone, and sometimes vicious mobs have simply bypassed the need to use the law and have meted out violent “justice” by themselves. I still remember a few years ago, when a violent mob burnt a Christian couple alive under suspicion of blasphemy. And of course, the horrific incident of Mashal Khan’s lynching is also fresh in our memories.

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