By Saad Sayed
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – A Pakistani student shot and killed his school principal on Monday, in a dispute over the student skipping classes to attend rallies supporting the country’s strict blasphemy laws, a police official said.
Sareer Ahmed, principal of the private Islamia College in the northern town of Charsadda, had an argument with one of his students for missing a number of classes. The student then shot the principal on campus, local police chief Zahoor Afridi told Reuters.
He said the unnamed student had attended a sit-in staged by a new ultra-religious political party, Tehreek-e-Labaik, late last year to oppose a small change in wording to an electoral law, which it said amounted to blasphemy.
The protest, which brought the capital Islamabad to a standstill, ended in clashes between police and demonstrators that killed seven people and injured over 200. It also led the government to back down and accept the resignation of a minister accused of blasphemy.
“Obviously now he is going to say that he (the principal) committed blasphemy. This is a very unfortunate incident,” Afridi added.
Insulting Islam’s prophet is punishable by death under Pakistani law, and blasphemy accusations stir such emotions that they are difficult to defend against. Even a rumor of blasphemy can spark mob violence.