A “blasphemy killing” at a university shocks Pakistan

IN THE room of Mashal Khan, a student at Abdul Wali Khan University in Mardan, a dusty town in north-west Pakistan, the late occupant’s handwriting is on almost every surface. Some of his scribblings in felt-tip pen are banal (“You beauty”) or crude (“Get your burger-flipping ass outta here”). But many hint at an idealistic and fiercely independent young mind: “Freedom is the right of every individual” and “Be crazy, curious and mad!” These were injunctions that Mr Khan, a journalism student, upheld—and that got him killed.

On April 13th Mr Khan was pulled from the room by a crowd of fellow students. The violence that followed, partially recorded on a mobile phone, was staggeringly brutal. The attackers shot Mr Khan twice, dragged his corpse through hallways, beat it with planks and stripped it naked.

Earlier in the day a fellow journalism student had accused Mr Khan of blasphemy. That allegation appears to have triggered the attack. The penalty for blasphemy under Pakistani law is death. But it is increasingly common that vigilantes take the law into their own hands before courts get involved. At least 65 people have been murdered by mobs for allegedly...

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