An angry mob of Pakistani students shouting “Allahu Akbar” beat a fellow student to death on campus Thursday for alleged blasphemy against Islam.
The student, identified as Marshal Khan, was studying journalism at the Abdul Wali Khan University in Mardan. He was reportedly stripped of his clothes in front of other students and beaten with wooden planks until his skull collapsed, university officials and police said, according to The Washington Times.
After this, the mob didn’t appear to be satisfied and “wanted to burn his body,” too, local police chief Mohammad Alam Shinwari said, according to Reuters.
Authorities arrested 10 students who were involved in the attack. Previous reports said Khan was attacked because of a “blasphemous” social media post. However, it was uncertain as to which post triggered the group to accuse Khan of blasphemy.
Another report said Khan got involved in a heated debate on religion. The arguments caught the attention of “several hundred students.” The angry mob allegedly attacked Khan in his dorm room, dragged him outside and started to beat him.
Khan is known to have liberal views. One of his teachers remembered him as being passionate and critical.
“He was brilliant and inquisitive, always complaining about the political system of the country, but I never heard him saying anything controversial against the religion,” the teacher said, according to Reuters.
Another teacher said that Khan was an inquisitive student but professed devotion to Islam.
“Whatever he had to say, he would say it openly, but he didn’t understand the environment he was living in,” the teacher said.
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said he was both “shocked and saddened” by the death of Khan, and that he would not allow citizens to take the law in their hands.
“The nation should stand united to condemn this crime and to promote tolerance and rule of law in society,” he said, according to the BBC. “Let it be known to the perpetrators of this act that the state shall not tolerate citizens taking the law in their own hands.”
Last month, Sharif issued an order to take down all blasphemous content on social media and to enforce “strict punishment of the law” to those who would post such content.
Khan’s father lamented that the blasphemy accusation was “adding salt” to the loss of his son.
At Khan’s funeral in the town of Swabi, the imam refused to read the last rites to Khan.
“My wife told me this morning that she spent her life taking care of her son, but those who killed him have wasted that long struggle,” Khan’s father said.