Here's how the killing of Mashal Khan has brought forth the issue of extremism in Pakistan

It's high time that Pakistan lets go of this absurd law and the over sensitive religious sentiment if it wants to get rid of extremism

“Mashal was a Diya (lamp). They have turned off a lamp,” told Mashal Khan’s teacher Ziaullah Hamdard to a private TV channel.

The walls of the university hostel room of the Pakistani student Mashal Khan, who was lynched to death for ‘blasphemy’ on April 13, has posters of Karl Marx and Che Guevara and scribbled quotes that shout: “Be curious, crazy and mad.”

This curiosity and madness led to the murder of 23-year-old journalism student Abdul Wali Khan University in Mardan, Pakistan, who called himself “The Humanist” on his Facebook Page where he questioned his own belief and religion. However, humanity failed this humanist when a bloodthirsty mob dragged Mashal out of his room and shot him. Though the shots would have killed him within moments, even that wasn’t enough to stop the mob. In one of the video footage of the incident, the lifeless body of Mashal is seen lying on the floor and the mob could be seen kicking and jumping and beating his lifeless body with wooden sticks. His dead body bore the marks of inhumane torture. The liberal youth whom those “pious Muslims” labelled as a “non-believer” breathed his last while chanting Allah-o-Akbar (Allah is great)!

And if that was not enough, the imam at the local mosque refused to read the last rights during Khan’s funeral!

Even the presence of more than 20 policemen could not change the fate of this horrific incident. The policemen said that they were outnumbered by the angry mob and there was nothing that they could do to stop them.

Aziz ur Rehman, a caretaker of the hostel where Khan lived, told the Reuters that Khan was alive when the police arrived, but that they did not approach the hostel until it was too late. “They could have easily saved his life but they stood away from the mob … I heard one officer say it’s good that they sent this non-believer to hell,” he said. However, the police have denied all these allegations.

Blasphemy is punishable in Pakistan under several laws. Last month Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif swore that blasphemers on social media would be prosecuted. The Interior Ministry also threatened to block social media websites with blasphemous content. Crimes related to blasphemy are a serious offense in Muslim-majority Pakistan, and penalties for the same range from minimal fines to even death sentences.

Khan was not the only victim to this absurd law. According to a report of a Center for Research and Security Studies report and local media, at least 65 people have been murdered since 1990, thanks to blasphemy and dozens more who have been convicted are currently on death row in Pakistani jails.

Though there haven’t been any evidence or police complaints against Mashal for saying any controversial thing against Islam, he was critical of political and orthodox systems. Those who knew Khan described him as an intellectually curious student who openly professed devotion to Islam but asked many questions. Rehman who was often a witness to Khan’s debate with his fellow students told the Reuters that Khan always brought up controversial subjects such as if the offspring of Adam and Eve, the first humans as per Islamic texts, would have married each other, wasn’t this incest.

“Whatever he had to say, he would say it openly, but he didn’t understand the environment he was living in,” said one of Khan’s teachers at Abdul Wali Khan University to Reuters, on the condition of anonymity.

Interestingly, almost everybody responsible for Khan’s killing follows Islam and the Holy Book Quran. Yes, the same Quran that says: “Whosoever kills an innocent human being, it shall be as if he has killed all mankind and whosoever saves the life of one, it shall be as if he has saved the life of all mankind”.

Isn’t the entire incident a death of humanity? Is your religious ego so fragile that you beat somebody to death so barbarically? Which kind of Islam do these people follow? Because this is certainly not what our religion preaches. This is anything but the ideology of Islam. No, Islam doesn’t allow such brutal murders. Also, there is no civilised society in the world which allows us to take the law into our own hands no matter how severe the crime is!

Though Sharif and numerous others leaders including PTI Chairman Imran Khan, PPP Senator Sherry Rehman and Malala Yousafzai have strongly condemned Khan’s killing and have ordered an arrest of all those involved in the incident, this murder is a clear example of what extremism and fragile religious egos can do to a country. The incident also shows how paralysed Pakistan is and how it has time and again failed to control the menace of extremism.

What’s more alarming is that all the suspects involved in the killing are mostly youngsters. It’s sad to see to how the younger generation, which is otherwise a symbol of change in any society, has been radicalised in Pakistan. And it’s high time that Pakistan encourage debate and teach the true meanings of tolerance and peace and let go of this absurd law and the over sensitive religious sentiment if it wants to get rid of extremism and build a safe society for its youth!

You can also watch the video here: