November 6, 2014 / 11:24 AM / 3 years ago

Pakistani police officer axes man to death over blasphemy

LAHORE Pakistan (Reuters) - A policeman in Pakistan hacked a man to death for allegedly making derogatory remarks about the companions of the Prophet Muhammad, police said, just two days after a Christian couple was lynched over blasphemy in the same province.

The man, Tufail Haider, 55, was taken into custody late on Wednesday in the city of Gujrat after a group of people allegedly overheard him making the remarks, beat him up and handed over to police.

“Officer Faraz Naveed brought him to the police station and sent him to lock-up. Haider did not stop using nasty words about Sahaba (the companions) despite warnings from various officials,” said police officer Khurram Shehzad.

“At around 5.00 a.m., Naveed could not control his emotions. He went into his cell, brought an axe, entered the lock up and hit Haider’s throat several times.”

Haider died on the spot, police said.

Blasphemy is a serious offense in conservative Muslim Pakistan where those accused are sometimes lynched on the spot.

On Tuesday, in another part of Punjab province, a mob beat a Christian married couple to death and burned their bodies in a brick kiln for allegedly desecrating a Koran.

Blasphemy charges, even when they do go to court, are punishable by death in Muslim-majority Pakistan. They are hard to fight because the law does not define clearly what is blasphemous.

Even presenting the evidence in court can sometimes itself be considered a fresh infringement.

Pakistan’s minorities feel that the state fails to protect them, and even tolerates violence against them.

Last month, a British man with a history of mental health illness, sentenced to death for blasphemy this year, was shot and wounded by a prison guard in his cell.

Also in October, a Pakistani court upheld the death penalty against a Christian woman, Asia Bibi, who is also accused of blasphemy, in a case that drew global headlines after two prominent politicians who tried to help her were assassinated.

Writing by Maria Golovnina; Editing by Robert Birsel

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