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Pakistan: mob lynching and blasphemy laws
  • Priyantha Kumara Diyawadana mob lynching
    Priyantha Kumara Diyawadana mob lynching
His name was Priyantha Kumara Diyawadana. He was forty-nine years old and the father of two children. A Sri Lankan citizen of Buddhist religion, he had been in Sialkot, Pakistan, for eleven years working as a civil engineer. He was literally slaughtered by a crowd of beasts disguised as human beings who first tortured him, then beat him to death and finally set him on fire. According to medical reports, there was no longer a whole bone in Priyantha's body. And as the crowd raged on his body, on the fringes of the slaughter other sinister individuals took selfies with the flames in the background and posted them on Twitter. His fault? He had detached from the walls of his workplace, which had to be repainted, some posters with a religious content. Some of the factory workers shouted blasphemy and called the shady figures who make up the militias of the Tehrik-e-Labaik Pakistan, a religious fundamentalist party notorious both in Pakistan and abroad, which has made its own horse of blasphemy laws. battle: banned some time ago and recently readmitted to the political scene after making an agreement with Prime Minister Imran Khan. The Tlp, just to understand, is the party that years ago defended, raining rose petals at every public exit from jail to the Court, the murderer of the ex-governor of Punjab Salman Taseer, killed for speaking against the laws anti-blasphemy and for defending Asia Bibi, sentenced to death without blame and then released ten years later. It is the same party that last year called for the interruption of all diplomatic relations with France, the expulsion of the French ambassador to Pakistan and the interruption of commercial relations with the country 'guilty' of having allowed the publication and the re-publication of the famous cartoons about Muhammad that appeared in the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. The members and the then party president Khadim Hussain Rizvi, who died some time later, also asked via social media for the beheading of Macron and all blasphemous Westerners. While on YouTube and Facebook a video by Rizvi raged, without anyone requesting censorship, which literally said: “France is challenging us. There is a reason why the government of Pakistan has the atomic bomb. Use them, and declare jihad ... The prime minister and other politicians continue to say that Islam is a religion of peace, but we have a duty to tell the world that Islam admits jihad against those who are stain with blasphemy. I declare the jihad against the infidels ”. And he was not the only one: so much so that no one dreamed of arresting Rizvi for inciting religious hatred. Moreover in Pakistan, in the month of August alone, the police registered forty complaints of blasphemy. Most of the complaints were about Shiite Muslims, but no one screamed at Islamophobia for it. In September, in Lahore, a Christian citizen was sentenced to death, again for blasphemy, while another, in Peshawar, was killed in the court that was trying him. The European Parliament, in April, issued a resolution calling for a review of trade relations with Pakistan, citing "the alarming use of blasphemy allegations and the exponential increase in attacks against journalists and activists". The issue of anti-blasphemy laws in Pakistan has now become of vital importance. As the law is formulated, in fact, anyone can be accused by anyone even for apparently insignificant gestures, such as removing posters from a wall. Not only has blasphemy been used for years as a means to settle territorial issues with neighbors or condominium disputes, but it has now become the main tool for silencing activists, opponents or journalists. Laws are now in use, it should be remembered, as a gun aimed at the head of anyone who tries even remotely to criticize the government, the fundamentalists or the army. With the full consent of the majority of the population, who despite declaring themselves shocked by episodes such as that of Priyantha, episodes that unfortunately become more and more frequent, is fully convinced that blasphemy should be punished and has very little to object against the laws in force. Thus, again according to the data of the European Parliament, in the last year there was the highest number of accusations of blasphemy ever recorded: "the situation has increasingly deteriorated, given that the government has systematically taken steps to tighten the laws on blasphemy while failing to protect religious minorities from abuse, causing an exponential growth in the number of murders, accusations of blasphemy, forced conversions and incitement to hatred against Christians, Hindus, Sikhs and other Muslim confessions such as Shia and Ahmadi ". Between 1987 and 2020, 1855 people were accused of blasphemy, 200 in 2020 alone: and many, even if unjustly accused, were attacked by an angry mob or killed in cold blood. Not to mention the sad chapter of the girls of other religious confessions kidnapped, raped, forcibly converted to Islam and then forced into marriage. The fact is that Pakistan is still and always "the most dangerous country in the world", and that the fundamentalist religious drift is now a consolidated reality and destined, if anything, to worsen. Imran Khan has stated more than once that his ideas of him are perfectly identical to those of the Tlp, even if he does not always approve of the ways, goodness of him. And among that healthy part of the population that disapproves, a creeping climate of terror reigns even when in their own home: if you do not respect the Ramadan fast, some members of the servants could go and report you for blasphemy. To the government or, even worse, to the Tlp squads.
Francesca Marino