Police in Pakistan say a man has been beaten to death by a mob for apparently desecrating Islam’s holy book, the Quran.
The crowd of hundreds of villagers set the body of the man, believed to be mentally unstable, on fire after killing him on Friday in Dadu district of Sindh province, police said on Saturday.
About 200 people reportedly stormed the police station where the man was being held and attacked him. His body was later set on fire.
The violence was sparked when “people in surrounding villages learnt that a man had burnt copies of the Quran”, local police official Usman Ghani told AFP news agency.
“They took him away, beat him severely and then burnt him.”
Police detained him on Friday after people claimed to have found him burning copies of the Quran in a mosque in Seeta village, Abdullah Memon, a resident of the village, told AFP.
“They caught him and handed over to police on Friday morning,” Memon said.
Police believe the man was mentally unstable as they were unable to get him to tell them basic facts, such as his name and address, when they took him into custody, Ghani said.
Local police official Bihar-ud-Din said that police have arrested 30 people for their involvement in the attack, while the head of the local police station and seven officers had been suspended.It is the latest case to highlight the sensitivity of blasphemy in Pakistan, where 97 percent of the population are Muslims and insulting the Prophet Mohammed can be punished by death.
People have been arrested for just discussing or writing about Islam, making mistakes in homework or not joining protests against a film insulting Islam. In some cases, the accusers have had financial disputes with those who are accused.
Most recently, international attention focused on the case of Rimsha Masih, a Christian teenager accused of having burnt pages of a child’s exercise book quoting the Quran in a bag of rubbish she was carrying.
The case was dismissed last month after a neighbour came forward to say she was framed, possibly to chase Christians out of her neighbourhood.
In the past two years, two senior Pakistani officials who suggested reforming blasphemy laws have been shot dead, one by his own bodyguard.