'Imam refused to lead Mashal Khan's last rites'

Published: April 15, 2017
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Police search the dorm room of Mashal Khan, accused of blasphemy, who was killed by a mob at Abdul Wali Khan University in Mardan, Pakistan April 14, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

Police search the dorm room of Mashal Khan, accused of blasphemy, who was killed by a mob at Abdul Wali Khan University in Mardan, Pakistan April 14, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

A policeman gestures as he stands guard at the entry of Abdul Wali Khan University where Mashal Khan, accused of blasphemy, was killed by a mob, in Mardan, Pakistan April 14, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS Police look at the destroyed door to the dorm room of Mashal Khan, accused of blasphemy, who was killed by a mob at Abdul Wali Khan University in Mardan, Pakistan April 14, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS Police search the dorm room of Mashal Khan, accused of blasphemy, who was killed by a mob at Abdul Wali Khan University in Mardan, Pakistan April 14, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

MARDAN: The ransacked university hostel room of slain Pakistani student Mashal Khan has posters of Karl Marx and Che Guevara still hanging on the walls, along with scribbled quotes including one that reads: “Be curious, crazy and mad.”

The day before, an alleged heated debate over religion with fellow students broke out at the dorm and led to people accusing Mashal of blasphemy against Islam. That attracted a crowd that grew to several hundred people, according to witnesses.

The mob kicked in the door, dragged Mashal from his room and beat him to death, witnesses and police said. The death Mardan is the latest violence linked to accusations of blasphemy in Pakistan.

We’re bringing a bad name to Islam ourselves: Malala condemns Mashal Khan’s murder

Those who knew Mashal described him as an intellectually curious student who openly professed devotion to Islam but asked many questions. “Whatever he had to say, he would say it openly, but he didn’t understand the environment he was living in,” said one of Mashal’s teachers at Abdul Wali Khan University, who declined to be named for fear of retribution.

Police look at the destroyed door to the dorm room of Mashal Khan, accused of blasphemy, who was killed by a mob at Abdul Wali Khan University in Mardan, Pakistan April 14, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

Police look at the destroyed door to the dorm room of Mashal Khan, accused of blasphemy, who was killed by a mob at Abdul Wali Khan University in Mardan, Pakistan April 14, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

Crimes related to blasphemy are a serious offence in Pakistan, and penalties range from small fines to the death sentence.

At least 65 people have been murdered over blasphemy allegations since 1990, according to figures from a Centre for Research and Security Studies report and local media, and dozens more convicted of the crime are currently on death row in Pakistani jails.

The government has yet to comment publicly on Khan’s killing.

In March, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif issued an order for the removal of blasphemous content online, and said anyone who posted such content should face “strict punishment under the law”.

A policeman gestures as he stands guard at the entry of Abdul Wali Khan University where Mashal Khan, accused of blasphemy, was killed by a mob, in Mardan, Pakistan April 14, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

A policeman gestures as he stands guard at the entry of Abdul Wali Khan University where Mashal Khan, accused of blasphemy, was killed by a mob, in Mardan, Pakistan April 14, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

Police say they have arrested at least 20 suspects involved in Mashal’s murder and have found no evidence to substantiate blasphemy allegations.

Imam refuses last rites

Rehman, the caretaker, said Mashal was alive when the police arrived, but that they did not approach the hostel until it was too late. “They could have easily saved his life but they stood away from the mob…I heard one officer say it’s good that they sent this non-believer to hell,” he said.

Mardan police chief Mohammad Alam Shinwari denied the allegation that officers did not do enough to save Khan. “When we entered the campus, he had already been killed and the mob was trying to burn his body,” he said.

Judicial inquiry ordered into Mardan lynching

In Mashal’s hometown of Swabi, around 60 km south of Mardan, his father, Iqbal Shaer, said the accusations of blasphemy were unfounded. “First they killed my son and now they are adding salt to our wounds,” he said.

Shaer, who runs a small business selling biscuits and chocolates to local retailers, said he had always been a lover of poetry and literature and encouraged his children to express themselves and appreciate the arts.

He added, “My wife told me this morning that she spent her life taking care of her son, but those who killed him have wasted that long struggle.”

At Mashal’s funeral, the imam at the local mosque refused to lead the last rites, according to Swabi resident Salman Ahmed. A technician who was asked to do so in the cleric’s place was confronted by several people afterwards. Mashal has since been buried.

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Reader Comments (19)

  • Sunnny
    Apr 15, 2017 - 1:02PM

    If Islam is a religion of peace, people who killed Mashal should be tried under Blasphemy laws. Thease goons have acted as they are RSS membersRecommend

  • genie
    Apr 15, 2017 - 1:43PM

    How many of those involved in this act of murder know what Allah commanded us all? How many realize that one of Allah’s many commands is “Thou shalt not commit murder”.
    How many of those committing this murder have bothered to search their souls.Recommend

  • pradip biswas
    Apr 15, 2017 - 2:42PM

    The master or Malik of this universe is one and only one. Muslim call him Allah, Christians call him God or Hindus call him Ishwar but he is one and we all are his Children. Killing any of his children is an act against him. Those who murdered Mashal Khan acted against the almighty that says they are non-believers.Yes they are non-believers.Recommend

  • Feroz
    Apr 15, 2017 - 3:18PM

    If Pakistan becomes a nation of closed minds, light will not filter through. Let there be light not darkness. The nation cannot be allowed to become a land of darkness with everyone becoming a broker to impose their will on others, calling it Gods will.Recommend

  • Wasim Baig
    Apr 15, 2017 - 3:18PM

    Since it appears that the poor kid didn’t blasphemize, the accused should be charged with premeditated murder under our AntiTerror LAWS. PTI has to ensure this happens.

    Moreover, the name of the department should be changed to Mashal Khan Department of Journalism. So that forever more the students remember the atrocity committed. Surely, they will be bought to account in front of Allah on the day of judgment, and they will pay a heavy price. Recommend

  • Abdu Qadir
    Apr 15, 2017 - 4:47PM

    The police should also be arrested as they stood as spectators with the crowd who kill him. I have called one of my freind in Mardan Uni, he told me that police also fa ouring the crowd to kill him on the spot otherwise courts ll release him.Recommend

  • Sam
    Apr 15, 2017 - 5:06PM

    Terrible and very sad. State should interfere, this is no way to treat a citizen.Recommend

  • Ch. Allah Daad
    Apr 15, 2017 - 5:27PM

    Mashal Khan is a Shaheed. He is lucky that no disgusting Mullah lead his last rites. Recommend

  • Such bolta hoon
    Apr 15, 2017 - 5:27PM

    All the fueds in the world are man’s interpretation of the religion.
    Islam is a religion of peace and submission to their creator.Recommend

  • Hidden truth
    Apr 15, 2017 - 6:10PM

    Its better to follow religion with understanding than to follow blindly. Understanding makes your faith rock solid and you are able to shun the practices which have creeped into it with the passage of time.Recommend

  • Kiran Bokhari
    Apr 15, 2017 - 7:18PM

    Who needs a mullah who doesn’t even get the essense of Islam as for those who wrongfully killed this young man..they will have to answer the Lord of the universes and I’m sure His promise that He will not forgive the zalimeen will make them wish they had not done this. Prayers for his family Recommend

  • Cyber Khan
    Apr 16, 2017 - 2:28AM

    Iqbal, rightly said it, a century ago
    Deen e mulla fee sabeel lillah fasaadRecommend

  • Ameer Qaisrani
    Apr 16, 2017 - 9:38AM

    May Mashal Khan’s soul rest in peace and may Allah grant him place in heavenRecommend

  • saleem
    Apr 16, 2017 - 10:40AM

    The Imam ridiculed the Islam by refusing to perform the last rites for the Muslim student. This Imam should be named and tried for blasphemy. Let them taste their own medicine.Recommend

  • JKhan
    Apr 16, 2017 - 11:29AM

    This man who refused to perform Namaz e Janaza should be tried under blasphemy laws Recommend

  • Singh
    Apr 16, 2017 - 12:00PM

    R.I.P MK. Where is law of land?Recommend

  • Farooq Khan
    Apr 16, 2017 - 7:31PM

    Local people should do economic bycott of this cleric, not allow him to lead prayers and isolate him completely, if the locals have any humanity in their hearts.Recommend

  • ankur tayal
    Apr 17, 2017 - 3:06AM

    It’s a shame on us humans.Recommend

  • Jadugar
    Apr 17, 2017 - 7:25PM

    If the Imam refuses to lead the prayer then he should quit his position as he has given up the right to Lead a prayer in the eyes of the people and GOD.Recommend

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