Hundreds of Muslims attacked a Sri Lankan factory manager for vandalizing posters bearing the name of the Prophet Muhammad. They beat and burned him – and took a selfie as a souvenir: “I participated too.” More than 100 arrested, Pakistan PM to the president of Sri Lanka: “Shameful”
A horrific murder case has been stirring Pakistan and Sri Lanka in recent days: an angry Pakistani mob lynched a foreign worker from Sri Lanka and burned his body – all because he was accused of “desecrating Islam”. Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan last night spoke with the President of Sri Lanka and informed him that more than 100 people had been arrested on suspicion of involvement in the horrific murder. He promised that they would be tried in full severity.
The victim of the lynching, which occurred on Friday morning, is a man named Priyanta, who runs a sports equipment factory in Punjab province. According to police, hundreds of Muslims raided the factory, dragged the man out, executed him – and after he died, cremated his body. They claimed against him that he tore up posters on which the name of the Prophet Muhammad appeared. The man reportedly asked for any stickers and papers to be removed from equipment at the factory before a foreign delegation arrived.
In Pakistani society, which is quite conservative, it is often enough to claim that someone has violated the dignity of the Prophet and Islam for the masses to attack him. Pakistani laws themselves make it possible to impose the death penalty on anyone who desecrates the honor of Islam. The Pakistani government has long been under pressure to change these laws, but Islamist elements insist on maintaining them and warn it not to do so.
Just about a week ago, an angry mob burned down a police station in northwestern Pakistan, after police there refused to hand over a mentally ill man accused of desecrating the Koran. In the last decade, the story of Asia Bibi, a Christian farmer who was accused by her co-workers of humiliating the Prophet Muhammad and sentenced to death, became known around the world. She was released and smuggled to Canada only under Western pressure, after eight years in which lawyers fought against her execution. The governor of Punjab province, who dared to defend her, was assassinated in 2011 by his bodyguard.
Pakistani police announced yesterday that they had arrested 13 suspects in the murder on Friday and dozens more who were suspected of being involved in the attack. Investigators are examining the footage from about 160 security cameras to find out what role each of the detainees played in the act and to locate more suspects. In the footage from the lynching moments, an inciting crowd is seen encouraging the killers to kill the man. Some of those involved were seen taking selfies with the body, and even admitted in front of the cameras that they were in fact partners.
In his telephone conversation with the President of Sri Lanka, Gutbia Rajapaksa, the Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed the anger and shame of Pakistan in the face of actions.