Police in northwestern Pakistan say a student shot and killed his college principal on campus on Monday after accusing him of blasphemy.
The incident occurred at the private Islamia College in the northwestern town of Charsadda. The shooter was arrested, according to area police chief Zahoor Afridi.
Afridi explained that the slain principal, Sareer Ahmed, reprimanded one of his students for skipping classes to attend an Islamist rally supporting Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. The argument angered the student, who fired six shots at Ahmed. Police arrived at the campus and took the shooter into custody along with his weapon. An investigation has been launched.
In a video recorded during the arrest, the unnamed student can be heard justifying his crime in the local Pashto language, saying he believed the college principal had committed blasphemy.
“I have been taught to kill the blasphemer and don’t be afraid of disrespecting those who insult God. I, myself, killed him, and I confess it,” proclaimed the 12th grade student.
The young man had traveled to Islamabad in November to participate in a sit-in protest organized by a radical Islamic group, Tehreek-e-Labaik, to denounce attempted changes in an electoral law for allegedly being blasphemous.
The protest paralyzed the national capital for three weeks and ended only after the government accepted all the group’s demands, including removal of the federal law minister.
Under Pakistani blasphemy laws, insulting Islam’s prophet is punishable by death. Mere accusations can stir mob violence and lynchings of alleged blasphemers in the predominantly Sunni Muslim nation.
Last April, student Mashal Khan was beaten to death at his university campus in the nearby city of Mardan after fellow students accused him of posting blasphemous material on social media. The incident provoked widespread outrage and condemnation across Pakistan.
Police have since arrested nearly 60 people, including students and some faculty members, for playing a role in Khan’s lynching.
Rights activists have long complained about misuse of blasphemy laws in Pakistan, where dozens of people have been murdered over unproven allegations of blasphemy.