Mob Kills One Man, Injures Three in Pakistan After Finding Koran Pages in Pomegranate Crate

| by Allison Geller

A mob in the city of Quetta in southwestern Pakistan killed one man and wounded three more for alleged desecration of the Koran, though there was nothing to suggest that those people were responsible for the desecration.

Raw Story reported that vendors allegedly found torn-out pages of the Koran in a crate of pomegranates from the bordering town of Taftan in neighboring Iran. The mob formed and began shouting slogans against Shiite Muslims, who form the majority in Iran and the minority in Pakistan.

Things soon turned violent, with the group destroying shops, burning a motorcycle, and attempting to march to a Shiite neighborhood before being stopped by police.

The mob then began randomly firing shots, resulting in the injuries and fatality.

In Pakistan desecrating the Koran and defaming Islam or the Prophet Mohammad are offenses punishable by death.

Newsweek Pakistan reported that provincial home secretary Asad Gilani said the unrest was contained by paramilitary troops, and that no one had registered the case with police under the blasphemy law. The exact details of how the incident played out are still unclear.

A commenter on the Newsweek story claimed that the pomegranates were wrapped in Persian poetry, not pages of the Koran.

The torn-out Koran pages may have just been a pretense to attack the Shiite community, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported. Quetta police in Quetta told the news source that they have detained at least five men for questioning, including the owner of the stall who sold the pomegranates and the man who reported the offense to police.

In June of last year a mob attacked a police station demanding a man who had been detained for allegedly desecrating the Koran, resulting in the death of one man and the wounding of 19 others.

Quetta is the capital of the Baluchistan province, where violence from Islamist insurgents, separatist rebels and sectarian militants regularly occurs.

Sources: Raw Story, Newsweek Pakistan,  RFE/RL