A teacher at a madrassa in Dera Ismail Khan city in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province was murdered by three of her colleagues after she was accused of blasphemy on 29 March.
Pakistani news outlet The Express Tribune reports that Safoora Bibi, 21, was killed on the Dera-Multan Road in Anjumabad area by three women after one of the assailants’ younger relatives, believed to be a 13-year-old girl, had a dream that Ms Bibi had committed blasphemy.
According to the District Police Officer, Najam Hasnain Liaquat, the three women have confessed to the murder and are currently being held in police custody alongside the 13-year-old girl.
Ms Bibi’s murder follows several recent incidents of violence in which individuals accused of blasphemy have been killed by their fellow citizens. On 12 February a Muslim man said to be suffering from mental illness was killed by a mob in Khanewal, Punjab Province, after he was accused of burning pages of the Quran. In December 2021 a mob in Sialkot, also in Punjab province, lynched Priyantha Diyawadana, a Sri Lankan national who was later identified as a Buddhist, after he was accused of desecrating posters bearing the name of Prophet Mohammed by colleagues at the factory where he worked.
Pakistan’s blasphemy laws criminalise anyone who insults Islam, including by outraging religious feeling, which carries the death penalty or life imprisonment. These laws are poorly defined and require low standards of evidence. As a result, they are often used as a weapon of revenge against both Muslims and non-Muslims to settle personal scores or to resolve disputes over money, property or business.
CSW’s Founder President Mervyn Thomas said: “CSW extends our deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of Safoora Bibi. Egregious acts of violence such as this are occurring far too frequently in Pakistan, and we call on the government to act swiftly and decisively to address this issue, which is tearing at the very fabric of Pakistani society. We continue to call for the review and eventual repeal of the blasphemy laws, which are wholly incompatible with the right to freedom of religion or belief, and urge the government to take steps to create a Pakistan in which every citizen is respected and treated as equal regardless of their religion or belief. We also urge the authorities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to conduct a swift and full investigation into Ms Bibi’s murder, holding all those responsible to account.”