Pakistanis say their government has ‘weaponized’ its blasphemy law

May 23, 2017

By Naila Inayat

Mashal Khan was studying journalism at Pakistan’s Abdul Wali Khan University in the northern city of Mardan when rumors began to spread around campus that he’d posted “blasphemous” content on Facebook. On April 13, a mob of angry students dragged the 23-year-old out of his dormitory, beat him with wooden planks and stones, and shot him to death.

“April 13 was an unlucky day for every single person who believes in humanity,” said Iqbal Khan, the victim’s father and a local poet. “Mashal was a tolerant man. Those who were close to him knew he was a humanist in a true sense. I only appeal to the government for justice. My son may never come back, but may his memory live on forever.”

Khan was known for holding progressive views. On the walls of his dorm room he put up images of Karl Marx and Che Guevara, and wrote slogans like, “Freedom is the right of every individual.”

Videos of his killing were recorded and posted online within minutes. The sight of young people on a university campus violently murdering a fellow student with such impunity fueled national and international outrage.

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