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  • 28 July 2014, 16:21

Pakistan Mob Kills Three Over 'Blasphemy'

A woman and her two granddaughters have been killed by an angry mob in Pakistan after an allegedly blasphemous post on Facebook.

Bashiran, 55, seven-year-old Hira and her baby sister died after their home was attacked in Gurjanwala, 110 miles southeast of the capital Islamabad.

All three were members of the Ahmadi community - an offshoot of Islam founded in India in the 19th Century.

The mob attacked and burnt five homes, a storage building and several vehicles belonging to Ahmadi followers on Sunday night after rumours emerged that a member of the community had put up an image of the Kaaba, the structure at the Grand Mosque in Mecca which Muslims face five times a day to pray, allegedly containing nudity.

Police officials said a crowd of 150 people first went to the police station to demand the blasphemy case was registered.

"As we were negotiating with the crowd, another mob attacked and started burning the houses of Ahmadis," an official said.

Munawar Ahmed, 60, who lives in the area, said: "The attackers were looting and plundering, taking away fans and whatever valuables they could get hold of.

"Some were continuously firing into the air."

Salimud Din, a spokesman for the Ahmadi community, accused the police of failing to act.

"The police were there but just watching the burning," he said.

"They didn't do anything to stop the mob, first they looted their homes and shops and then they burnt the homes."

Mr Din said it was the worst assault since attacks on places of worship which killed 86 Ahmadis in 2011.

Under Pakistani law, Ahmadi people are banned from using Muslim greetings, saying prayers or refereeing to their place of worship as a mosque. 

The blasphemy law is considered draconian by the minority Ahmadi and Christian community in Pakistan. The controversial law is not clearly defined and is punishable by death.           

Human rights groups say the law is often used to settle personal vendettas or to illegal grab property.

In January 2011, governor of Punjab Salman Taseer - who opposed the law - was killed by his bodyguard. Lawyers showered his killer with rose petals when he came to court.

Three months later Shahbaz Bhatti, the only Christian minister in the government, was killed for challenging the law.

And in May this year, prominent human rights activist Rashid Rehman, who had received death threats for defending people charged under the law, was shot dead in Multan.

A report by the Center for Research and Security Studies in Islamabad said there was just one case of blasphemy in 2001, but by 2011 that number grew to 80.

This year alone around 100 people have been charged under the law.

Though there have been convictions, the death sentence has never been carried out and most cases are thrown out on appeal.

Mobs like the one in Gurjanwala have killed many people accused of blasphemy.