Sunday, March 27, 2016

Mob attack former Pakistan pop star accused of blasphemy

A video showing a group of angry men at a

Pakistani airport assaulting a former pop star

accused of insulting the Prophet Mohammed's wife

has gone viral, in the latest case of vigilante

violence linked to blasphemy.

Junaid Jamshed, one of the pioneers of Pakistani

pop in the 1980s, was leaving Islamabad airport on

Saturday night when he was set upon by a group of

around six men who were waiting to attack him at

the exit.

The men, some wearing Western clothes while

others are dressed in traditional shalwar kameez,

are seen throwing punches at the 51-year-old, who

is now a high-profile Muslim evangelist and also

runs a chain of clothing boutiques.

"You have committed blasphemy, hit him, hit

him," shouts one of the men in the mobile phone


"We were looking for you," says another. "He has

disrespected the companions of Prophet

Mohammed. He has blasphemed against the


Jamshed was forced to flee back into the airport,

and later posted on Facebook: "Its about time v as

a nation decide that v will not let these religious

fanatics prevail amongst us. They will be exposed n

brought to task."

A local police official in Rawalpindi confirmed the

incident and said the ex-singer had filed a


Most Internet users condemned the violence on

social media.

"Get hold of the culprits and make an example of

them. Enough of this madness in the name of

love," wrote Facebook user Karami Elahi.

Many pointed to the fact that police and security

seemingly failed to intervene, despite the

outbreak of violence at one of the country's

busiest airports.

A spokesman for the Airport Security Force was

not available for comment despite repeated


Blasphemy is a hugely sensitive issue in the mainly

Muslim country. The law is often invoked against

minorities and the poor by those wishing to settle

personal scores, according to rights group.

Jamshed's case is more unusual. A video of him

appearing to make negative remarks about the

Prophet Mohammed's youngest wife to make a

broader point about women's inherent flaws was

widely shared in late 2014, which led to a

blasphemy case being brought against him.

He publicly apologised and sought forgiveness, and

the case did not proceed further.

Jamshed was once one of Pakistan's best loved pop

singers, famous for hits such as "Dil Dil Pakistan".

Now bearded and seen in traditional attire, he

often appears on TV adverts to give productsreligious endorsements.

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