Pakistan policeman uses axe to kill man accused of blasphemy

Killing comes just days after a Muslim mob murdered a Christian couple accused of the same crime
AFP, Lahore
Pakistan
November 6, 2014
A Pakistani policeman used an axe to kill a man arrested for allegedly committing blasphemy, officials said Thursday, days after an enraged mob murdered a Christian couple accused of the same crime.

Tufail Haider, a 50-year-old from the minority Shia sect of Islam, was arrested for allegedly making derogatory remarks toward the companions of the Prophet Mohammed and brought to the Civil Lines police station in the eastern city of Gujrat on Wednesday.

"Tufail was kept in the lock-up but he continued uttering derogatory remarks and hurled abuse at policemen. He looked like a malang (wandering preacher) and seemed mentally imbalanced," said duty officer Ali Raza.

"Assistant Sub-Inspector Faraz Naveed, 36, became very angry on hearing the derogatory remarks against the companions of the Prophet and he killed the detainee with an axe in the lock up," he said.

Naveed has been arrested and legal proceedings have been started against him, he added.

Around 1,000 Shias have been killed in the past two years in Pakistan, a heavy toll on the community that makes up roughly 20 percent of the country's 180 million-strong population, most of whom are Muslim.

The historical split between Sunnis and Shiites originated over who among Mohammed's companions should succeed him as ruler of the growing Muslim empire following his death.

There has been a recent surge in extra-judicial killings linked to Pakistan's blasphemy laws, which were put in place during the period of British rule and strengthened by former military ruler General Zia-ul-Haq in the 1980s.

A Christian bonded laborer and his pregnant wife were killed Tuesday for alleged desecrating pages of the Qur’an in the eastern village of Chak 59, sparking widespread condemnation. AFP

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