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A mob of Muslims descended on a police station in Pakistan Saturday, dragged a man out, and lynched him outside for allegedly desecrating a copy of the Quran.
Senior police officer Babar Sarfaraz Alpa said the man – only identified as Waris – had been in police custody after posting images of himself, his wife and a knife on several pages of Islam’s holy book. Waris displayed the pages and threw them about in the rural district of Nankana.
Police officers gather outside a police station, in Warburton, an area of district Nankana, Pakistan, Sunday, Feb. 12, 2023. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary)
Alpa said an enraged mob of hundreds stormed the Warburton police station where some protesters used a wooden ladder to climb a wall and opened the main gate for the angry mob. He said the group ransacked the entire police station and took Waris from his cell.
“By the time police reinforcement could reach the scene the mob lynched the man and were about to burn his body. But police with the help of saner people in the area foiled their attempt,” he said.
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Alpa said Waris was arrested in 2019 on a previous blasphemy charge and was in prison until mid-2022.
He said Waris again desecrated the Quran on Saturday morning and people who saw it grabbed him and started beating him. However, police rescued Waris and took him into custody.
Charges of blasphemy carry the death penalty under Pakistani law.
International and Pakistani rights groups say accusations of blasphemy have often been used to intimidate religious minorities and settle personal scores. Pakistan’s government has long been under pressure to change the country’s blasphemy laws, something the Islamists strongly resist.
Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif condemned the incident and asked the Punjab police chief to take action against officers who failed to protect the suspect while in custody.
Alpa said the lynching of Waris would be investigated.
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Usman Anwar, the Punjab police chief, suspended the police station chief and the area deputy superintendent for negligence in duty and failing to prevent the attack on the police station as well as the killing of the suspect.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Bradford Betz is a Fox News Digital breaking reporter covering crime, political issues, and much more.