A Pakistani teacher was stabbed to death allegedly over a blasphemy accusation that stemmed from a child’s dream.
Safoora Bibi, who taught a religious seminary in the northwestern city of Dera Ismail Khan, was killed on Tuesday by three women who claimed the Prophet Muhammad had ordered her killing in a dream by a child.
The child, a 13-year-old girl, is related to one of the suspects and “had seen a dream last night that the Prophet Muhammad had directed them that the victim had committed blasphemy against the Prophet and that the Prophet had ordered them to slaughter the victim,” Najam Hasnain Liaquat, a police officer investigating the case, told reporters on Tuesday.
Investigators have recovered a notebook containing the details of the dream, police said. Police have yet to determine whether the dream was the true motive, or if there were other factors such as personal enmity, according to Liaquat.
Blasphemy is a crime punishable by death in the Muslim-majority country, and accusations of the offense have often been used to settle personal vendettas by turning the accused into a target of criminal investigation or mob violence.
But the Tuesday killing was unusual in that it was carried out by women. Saif ul Malook, a lawyer who represented a Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy, said he had never heard of murders committed by women over a blasphemy accuastion.
“When it comes to issues concerning ideals of honour and honour killing, women haven’t been on the forefront,” Arafat Mazhar, director of Engage Pakistan, a nonprofit group seeking to reform Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, told VICE World News. “When we see street violence, protests or people demanding that someone be hanged [for blasphemy], we see men as the speakers for that.”
Police said Bibi, 21, died of a stab wound to the neck after three women attacked her on Tuesday morning outside the seminary with a knife and stick. The suspected assailants were arrested at their homes hours later.
A police investigator who spoke to VICE World News on the condition of anonymity said two of the suspects used to study in the same madrassah—a religious seminary—as Bibi and later taught at another seminary they opened.
Local news reports say the three suspects allegedly had a fallout with Bibi over different views about a religious leader. VICE World News could not independently verify this information.
At least 82 people have been murdered in Pakistan since 1990 based on accusations or rumors that they committed blasphemy, according to a tally by Al Jazeera.
Such allegations are often flimsy in nature. In January, a 26-year-old woman in the northern Pakistani city of Rawalpindi was sentenced to death after a man she said she rejected accused her of sending him blasphemous WhatsApp messages.
And in December, a Sri Lankan factory manager in Sialkot, in northeastern Pakistan, was lynched by his co-workers after rumors spread that he had removed stickers bearing the Prophet Muhammad’s name.
Follow Rimal Farrukh on Twitter.