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Brutal killing of Sri Lankan man accused of blasphemy in Pakistan sparks protests

The brutal killing of a Sri Lankan man accused of blasphemy by a mob in Pakistan has sparked protests in both countries, with Pakistan’s leader condemning the vigilante violence.

Priyantha Diyawadanage, 48, a factory manager in the city of Sialkot, was beaten to death on Friday and his body set alight.

More than 100 people have been arrested so far, said Pakistan PM Imran Khan.




He has described the incident as a “day of shame” for his country.

His wife, Nilushi Dissanayaka, called on both Pakistan and Sri Lanka’s governments to conduct a full investigation to “bring justice to my husband and my two children”.

“I saw that he was being attacked on the internet… it was so inhumane,” she said.



Videos of the lynching proliferated across social media over the weekend, and showed scenes of the incensed crowd dragging Mr Diyawadanage from his workplace and beating him to death.

They then burnt his body, and several people in the crowd were seen taking selfies with his corpse.

The violence had begun after rumours spread that Mr Diyawadanage had allegedly committed a blasphemous action, in tearing down posters with the name of the Prophet Muhammad, local police chiefs said.

But a colleague, who rushed to the site in a bid to save him, told the Associated Press of Pakistan that Mr Diyawadanage had only removed the posters as the building was about to be cleaned.

The scale of the vicious killing on Friday, involving hundreds of people has shocked the nation and sparked vigils.

Prime Minister Imran Khan condemned the “horrific vigilante attack” and vowed that “all those responsible will be punished with the full severity of the law”.

Blasphemy is defined as speaking insultingly about a particular religion or god. In Pakistan, it can carry a potential death sentence for anyone who insults Islam.

The country’s blasphemy law prohibits disturbing a religious assembly, trespassing on burial grounds, insulting religious beliefs or intentionally destroying or defiling a place or an object of worship.