PM's aide on religious harmony, Tahir Ashrafi, vows on behalf of the government that the culprits will get their just desserts
ISLAMABAD: The country's foremost religious scholars on Tuesday called for compensation to be given to the family of Sri Lankan national Diyawadanage Don Nandasri Priyantha who was savagely lynched last week in Sialkot over blasphemy allegations.
A press conference was held outside the Sri Lankan High Commission, where a group of ulema went to extend their condolences to the people of Sri Lanka over the incident, and to share in their grief over the barbaric act.
The ulema publicly denounced the lynching, with Special Representative of the Prime Minister on Religious Harmony Tahir Ashrafi vowing on behalf of the government that the culprits will get their just desserts.
Former federal minister for religious affairs Hamid Saeed Kazmi termed the incident "barbaric".
"Really, we are at a loss of words to say anything, because this is such a barbaric, such an [inhuman] and such a cruel act that no one can support it, no one can justify it," said Kazmi, addressing the media in English.
"So we are here to say that we are all feeling very [ashamed] and we express our heartfelt sorrow and very deep feelings for that and truly, we demand the Pakistani government for compensation," he added.
Kazmi noted that Priyantha had "served Pakistan" and said that not only the country's religious scholars but people from all walks of life have condemned the brutal act.
He said Sri Lankan High Commissioner Mohan Vijay Vikrama has conveyed to them that Sri Lanka and Pakistan are "close friends" and that the act "would not create any differences between the two countries".
The delegation requested Mohan to convey their heartfelt condolences to the people and government of Sri Lanka.
They also thanked Mohan for giving them a chance to meet him.
Prof Sajid Mir, chief of Jamiat Ahle Hadith, said that the incident "is not an expression of Islamic teachings and is not an extension of the feelings and sentiments of the Pakistani people".
"It is against both of them. It's a cruel act, it's an act which should be condemned at all levels and we have not only condemned it but have expressed our solidarity and our sympathy of the family of the deceased and for the Sri Lankan people and the Sri Lankan government.
"I support the demand that they should be amply compensated, as far as possible," he said.
Milli Yakjehti Council President Dr Sahibzada Abul Khair Muhammad Zubair reminded the nation that "the Holy Quran states that whosoever kills one man without any reason, it is as if he has murdered all of mankind".
He said that it is not a small matter for one to level false allegations, without any investigation or verification, and then commit murder.
"The Quran condemns such acts. And since we are followers of Islam, we strongly condemn this act, we express our sympathy with the family of the deceased.
"We wish for the world to know that such acts have nothing to do with Islam. Islam teaches peace and tolerance. Such incidents have no association with Islam and Pakistan's Constitution does not permit them either," he said.
"The incident has shaken the entire nation to its core," Mufti Taqi Usmani said in his address.
He expressed solidarity with the Sri Lankan people on behalf of the religious scholars of Pakistan, saying that the ulema equally share the other side's grief.
Mufti Usmani said Priyantha's family must be compensated for their loss, "even though there can be no real compensation [for the loss of a life]".
Council of Islamic Ideology Chairman Qibla Ayaz said action will be taken on the incident in line with the laws of Pakistan.
Former senator and religious scholar Sajid Mir said that no amount of condemnation of the Sialkot incident is enough.
"We are with Priyantha's family," he added.
Sahibzada Hamid Raza said the religious scholars of Pakistan will play their role in bringing the culprits to justice.
The Sri Lankan high commissioner, offering his remarks, said: "All of us strongly condemn the incident."
"Not only should such incidents not occur in Pakistan, but in the entire world as well," he said.
The high commissioner said he is satisfied with the measures taken by the Government of Pakistan in dealing with the issue.
He reiterated that the incident will not affect ties between Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Diyawadana Priyantha, working as a manager at a private factory in Sialkot, was lynched on Friday by a violent mob.
Workers of a garment industry, located on Sialkot’s Wazirabad Road, had alleged that the foreigner had committed blasphemy. The accusation was that he had reportedly removed some posters inscribed with the names of religiously revered personalities from the factory's walls.
Led by miscreants, the mob beat the foreigner to death, burnt his body, vandalised the factory and blocked traffic, according to the police.
The brutal murder had promptly drawn widespread condemnation from the citizenry, senior government functionaries, including the prime minister and president, as well as the military's top leadership, who promised to bring all those involved to the book.
The gruesome incident was dubbed by Prime Minister Imran Khan as "a day of shame for Pakistan".
A joint statement issued by the religious scholars of Pakistan called the Sialkot incident a "violation of the Constitution of Pakistan and Islamic laws, which caused great humiliation to the country".