2 girls killed in Pakistan blasphemy row

2014-07-28 12:33
(Basit Shah, AFP)

(Basit Shah, AFP)

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Lahore - An angry mob in Pakistan torched an Ahmadi Muslim minority neighbourhood killing a woman and two girls in a row over blasphemy, police said on Monday, in the latest attack on one of the country's most persecuted groups.

The incident took place on Sunday evening in the low-income Arafat Colony of the eastern city of Gujranwala, some 112km north of Lahore which is the capital of the Punjab province.

"An Ahmadi boy, Aqib Salim, aged 17, who belongs to a lower middle-class family allegedly, posted a blasphemous picture on Facebook, which infuriated his Muslim friend Saddam Hussain", a local police official Salim Akhtar said.

He said the pair scuffled on the street, as hundreds of onlookers gathered and began protesting.

"A violent mob set fire to five or six houses of the Ahmadi community after they accused the minority members of opening fire on them from the houses."

Akhtar said a woman and two girls, aged seven and one, were killed due to suffocation and eight others were injured.

Another local senior police official confirmed the incident and casualties.

The officer, who did not want to be identified, said the police was investigating the charges of blasphemy levelled by the Muslim population in the area.

Founded by Ghulam Ahmad, who was born in 1838, the Ahmadi sect has a number of unique views including that Ahmad himself was a prophet and that Jesus died aged 120 in Srinagar, capital of Indian-ruled Kashmir.

They are not allowed to identify themselves as Muslims under Pakistani law and are banned from going on the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca.

Blasphemy is a hugely sensitive subject in Pakistan, where the majority of the 180 million population are devoutly Muslim, though rights activists say unfounded charges are often levelled to settle personal scores.

A recent report from a US government advisory panel said Pakistan used blasphemy laws more than any other country in the world. It listed 14 people on death row and 19 others serving life sentences for insulting Islam.
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