Islamabad, July 6 (IANS) A man accused of blasphemy was snatched from the police and killed by a mob in Pakistan's Punjab province, an incident that prompted a daily to ask: "Why have we sunk to this level?"
An editorial in the News International Friday said that such shocking scenes have been witnessed before.
"Large crowds of people have stood by and watched as persons accused of a crime are beaten to death, lynched or burnt alive. The courts get to play no part in these events - with the mobs assigning themselves the role of judge, jury and executioner," it said.
The daily said that the incident near Bahawalpur was a perfect illustration of this alarming trend.
A man, handed in to the police after being accused of blasphemy, was snatched from the police station by a mob which surrounded it, set alight motorcycles and other vehicles and attempted to attack the policemen.
"The man, who witnesses said had desecrated the Holy Quran, was quite obviously mentally ill. Indeed, no sane person would choose to deliberately harm a Holy Book. This wretched being had petrol poured on him and was then set alight. His screams rang out but the large ring of onlookers did nothing to save him," the daily said.
"A person accused of blasphemy was once again killed in a manner which no civilised society should tolerate," it added.
It stated that similar acts have occurred in the past and wondered: "Why have we sunk to this level?"
Attempting to answer that question, the daily said that "it lies in the ideology of extremism that has spread like a wildfire through our society."
"It lies in the sense of terror created by this all-pervading atmosphere and also in the deep flaws within the blasphemy laws that allow such a fate to befall people following an accusation, true or false, of blasphemy".
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