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Man accused of blasphemy killed in Pakistan

Rights activists have condemned the incident as another instance of the havoc caused by blasphemy laws.

Written by Agencies | Islamabad |
November 18, 2010 3:44:56 pm

A man accused of blasphemy was shot and killed near his home in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore shortly after being granted bail by a court,according to a media report.

Imran Latif,22,was accused of burning pages of the Quran in a case registered at Sherakot police station in Lahore and spent five months in jail.

He was released on bail on November 3 after the man who filed the complaint of blasphemy told the court he was not sure that Latif was guilty.

Latif was shot by armed men near his home on November 11 but police learnt only later that he had been accused of blasphemy,the Express Tribune newspaper reported.

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Inspector Rafique Ahmed,who is investigating the murder,said Latif’s killing was likely linked to the blasphemy case. “No Muslim tolerates a man who commits blasphemous acts,” he said.

Latif’s family had not mentioned the blasphemy case when they reported the murder,he said.

Latif’s 60-year-old mother Sharifan said two men armed with pistols had knocked at the door of their house near Pir Makki shrine on November 11 and asked Latif to accompany them.

“A few yards from the house,they suddenly opened fire,” she said. She said her son was shot five times and the attackers fled on a motorcycle.

“There were policemen present in the street but no one tried to stop them,” she said.

Latif’s brother Haider Ali said he was innocent in the blasphemy case.

He suspected that Ijaz Ahmed,a man who had a dispute with his brother over the ownership of a shop,had had Latif killed with the help of two other men.

Rights activists have condemned the incident as another instance of the havoc caused by blasphemy laws.

“The blasphemy laws are being so widely exploited here. It seems that the life of a person ends when (he is) accused of committing blasphemy,” said Mehdi Hasan,chairman of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.

The judiciary and the government were afraid of the laws,Hasan said. Judges were afraid of attacks for acquitting those accused of blasphemy while the government is “apologetic about the laws”,he added.

In July,two Christian brothers accused of publishing a blasphemous pamphlet were shot dead outside a court in Punjab. More recently,another court in Punjab sentenced a Christian woman to death after convicting her for blasphemy.

Rights activists have said a trumped up case of blasphemy was filed against the woman after she had a quarrel with some Muslim women.

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