Mob violence

Editorial June 23, 2024


Just as the principal of Jamia Binoria Aalamia, one of the top Islamic universities in Pakistan, condemned the sickening Swat mob lynching, Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal said, “It is Ulema’s responsibility to understand how religion has been weaponised to justify mob violence.” The Swat lynching is not an isolated incident. Similar display of macabre “mob justice” has taken place with alarming frequency – most recently in Sialkot, Jaranwala and Sargodha.

The denunciation of Swat lynching by Jamia Binoria is significant, especially in the backdrop of what Iqbal said on the floor of the parliament. The grisly lynching was filmed on mobile phone cameras by onlookers and the footage has since gone viral on social media in which a crowd can be seen around the body of a tourist from Punjab who was earlier beaten to death by a vigilante mob over an alleged act of desecration. Alarmingly, the mob torched the local police station and its mobile van to snatch the suspect from police custody and subject him to “street justice”. This lynching is yet another grim reminder that weaponisation of religion to justify mob violence poses a serious challenge to the state’s writ, erodes confidence in the rule of law and damages the country’s image globally.

The condemnation though from Jamia Binoria can serve as a powerful example for other religious scholars and institutions. When respected religious authorities speak out against such atrocities, it sends a strong message that these acts are not condoned by the great religion of Islam. The state must also fulfil its responsibility by preventing such brazen acts of mob violence to restore public trust in rule of law; otherwise, the country may slide into anarchy. The state undoubtedly has the means to do that. It has proven this time and again by effectively quelling political dissent.


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