ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Thousands of people dragged a Pakistani man accused of desecrating Islam’s holy book from a police station in central Pakistan, beat him to death, and set his body on fire, a police official said Wednesday.
The attack highlighted the highly charged nature of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, under which anyone found guilty of insulting Islam’s prophet or the Koran can be sentenced to death.
Sometimes people take the matter into their own hands.
A senior police officer, Mohammed Azhar Gujar, said that in the attack Tuesday in Bahawalpur, a city in a conservative region, a mob stormed a police station where the man was being interrogated. Gujar said the victim seemed to be mentally unstable. He was arrested after residents said he threw pages of the Koran into the street.
While the man was being questioned, some people made announcements over mosque loudspeakers, urging residents to go to the police station and punish him.
Within hours, thousands gathered outside and demanded the man be handed over to them. Gujar said police tried to protect him, but the mob burned several police vehicles and wounded seven officers. They dragged the suspect into the street, where he was beaten to death and set on fire.
It was unclear whether the man was Muslim, a member of Pakistan’s Christian minority, or belonged to another religion. His name was not released.