Sialkot lynching: Roots of extremism run deep

Published: August 22, 2010

The video depicts two kids getting beaten up by almost everyone that could fit into the view of the camera.

I first heard the news on Facebook – I caught a friend ranting about a video of two boys in Sialkot getting brutally beaten to death in my feed. The internet has done its fair share of damage to most people’s minds morbid curiosity drove me to see what the video was about. It wasn’t exactly hard to find since violence has the potential for instantly going viral on the net.

The video depicts two kids getting beaten up by almost everyone that could fit into the view of the camera. Around the end, there is even what appears to be a 9-year-old child, who takes a shot at one of the wounded bodies. The video itself did not really affect me but what I found most disgusting is the train of thought that led to an instance of brutality that would put all of Fred Vogel’s filmography to shame.

Apparently, the two boys in question had gotten into a fight over a cricket match the previous day and just as they were headed out for another match after Sehri the following day, they were ambushed and once the townsfolk and the police noticed, the perpetrators blamed them for theft so they could get out of it. The police and townsfolk, in a fit of moralistic glory, decided they would let it continue and join in. The video probably originates from one of those knights of morality.

It is not hard to make random generalizations about the whole of mankind and philosphise that humanity has breached yet another boundary seeing how most people reacted to the video. Right there in the comments section on both Youtube and Facebook, I could see people questioning things like whether Pakistan deserved independence at all. Some people went as far as to chalk the recent floods up to our alleged immorality.

Although, I will refrain from making any meta-narratives out of this myself, I will say this; the video really does put things like the recent bombing of the Ahmadi mosque in Lahore and the tide of religious violence in Southern Punjab into perspective for us. We have  always been quick to ostracise anyone that demonstrates the weakness of our perfect little world and branding the perpetrators animals will not solve anything. We need to own up to the fact that the perpetrators arose from amongst us.

As I mention earlier, we must consider the train of thought that led to the incident. With the media projecting on to people that all hell has broken loose and that there is no law, it is not surprising that people would react this way. The conduct and the subsequent images of the police does little to help things, of course. With popular religious opinion by people’s side, I think the perpetrators found good reason for subjecting the two “filthy dakoos” to divinely sanctioned justice. After all is said and done, as long as a majority of the country, willingly or unwillingly, shuns reason in favour of this extremist sense of morality and justice, it is likely we will see such a tragedy again.


Asadullah Qureshi

A student who plays for metal band, Berserker and blogs at The Iron Markhor.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Rizwan K

    This incident only shows us one thing, amongst others, the collective mentality and extremism of Pakistani society. As individuals, we have lost our moral values, and this brutal episode sheds light over the dark reality. The police, who should be protectors of people, became perpetrators of this atrocious incident. The people who always complain about brutality of suicide attacks, terrorisms, lack of general security etc, became terrorists themselves in this incident. I am awed at the sickness of those people who hit those teenage boys again and again until their faces became disfigured and unrecognizable. How much cruel one can be? Pakistani society is reaching to it’s destruction. Whenever suicide bombings took place, I always thought that Pakistani’s are not capable of these cold blooded murders. But now my belief has changed. Pakistanis are capable of anything.Recommend

  • Ghulam Mustafa

    What a shame! you are linking this act with religion and Sharia.Recommend

  • Salutations

    Thank you Asadullah for writing this article. It shows that you have guts to condemn these barbaric actions and realize that these perpetrators are from among the pakistani nation. First the Shias, then the Ahmadis, now the killings of these INNOCENT and fragile brothers, who have lost their lives and left this world. For what? Just because someone didn’t like them or what they were made of? Well, let me tell you, its all skin and bones and blood. You, me and the rest of pakistan. Allah is watching and Pakistanis keep committing the crimes shamelessly. God help this nation.Recommend

  • Imran khan

    This man should be hand till death twice and then sdall be beaten by Iron roads Recommend

  • Qirat

    A society desensitized by open calls of some law-abiding citizens being wajib-ul-qatal, this kind of extreme violent behavior is expected. The silent majority has tolerated the calls of extreme violence for far too long. Recommend

  • Mohsin Hijazee

    That’s so horrible that I cannot find words to express myself. Softer that I can say is that its a nation of wild animals divided into ethnic, linguistic and religious self-righteous groups.Recommend

  • Mustafa

    @ Asadullah… Let’s not blame the media for repeating the clip. I strongly feel that awareness is what brought the Butt Brothers on the front door to people’s house even in villages and I would like to thank the media’s contribution. I would however add that Media does play a good role in bringing such injustices in Pakistan to the forefront but fails to have an adequate follow up to such incidents and thats where Pakistan media needs to be more active as well.

    May God Bless Pakistan. AMEEN!Recommend

  • drasiya

    i am from pakistan,but ashame to call me a pakistani,u hate pakistani people,now where is zardari,ALLAH IS WATCHINGRecommend

  • drasiya

    what about the people are watching this drama???they don,t have the heart,ashame on you people……no one came front to help them..shame on you people…u called your self muslim country and citizen,shame on you all people are watching there are also friend of these people are killed this two kids,shammmmeeee on you people…..what if this happend to your family.just thinkRecommend

  • Aneesa

    “…The video itself did not really affect me…”

    I am just stunned on your above line. Am sure you could have said better than that.Recommend

  • Asadullah Qureshi

    Why is everyone so surprised? It is not just Pakistanis who are capable of Giallo like violence but humanity in general. Stuff like this happens all over the world. This was probably the fate of almost every man of African extraction in the US once. And trust me, we do not need to abandon anything “human” in the process. We are still animals. Violence does not make you less of a human or Pakistani for that matter. Recommend

  • Asadullah Qureshi

    @ Aneesa
    Yes. I have seen everything that festers within the bowels of the many tubes that make the internet. I mean the video hardly qualifies as vomit inducing… it is the act that results in the latter. Recommend


    Drasiya is very right,we should be ashamed of our self,now what is the difference between the mob looking into brutal murder being taking place in front of their eyes,many of them would be fasting, many of them would have offered their prayers and would have seek ALLAH`S mercy,but from what,and the TALIBAN as they used also do these type of barberic act on the name of RELEGION.I am at least ashamed on all this and what is happening to the flood affected people that is another story.May ALLAH have mercy on us all.Recommend

  • Abdullah

    Where is Provincial government? why the killers not caught yet ….are the killers from PML(N) or talibans?Recommend

  • Hasan

    Where is Provincial government?

    DPO, representative of Punjab Government, was present at the incident. Recommend

  • Hasan

    Just wondering if the beating of these Jamaat Islami related boys was any different from Islami Jamiat-e-Talba beating to almost death of the professor recently in PU, and beating to death of a student by IJT in Peshawar University over music recently. May be some JI person can elaborate.Recommend

  • Desert

    Nice article, friend.

    Why are you all ashamed of being a Pakistani? What has Pakistan done to you all? Infact it’s us who are doing nothing but damaging the country’s image and reputation by committing hideous acts. Why put blame on the government? Infact why do we ‘always’ put blame on the government? After the Sialkot’s incident I’ve come to the conclusion it’s not government officials who are corrupt but it’s the ‘PAKISTANI AWAAM’, ‘CITIZENS OF PAKISTAN’ that are CORRUPT. Recommend

  • ostrich

    Basic problem in pakistan is that it is not happening to government officials since its independance. Thats why it is still happening in this modern age.IT is just reported incident what about unreported incidents. Tragic thing is in presence of police.
    Iam really sad to hear these type of incidences.Recommend

  • Asim Maqbool

    Honestly I have no words to denounce this brutal act. I wonder we can not even watch it but how they were executing them. Pakistan has lived its life. I wish someone could have bombed us and make us a lesson for others. Literally we do not deserve more than this. We have lost the legal grounds to live and be bestowed upon from HIM. I hate myself to be a part of this uncivilized world. I wish we all had died before this incident happened.Recommend

  • AMIR

    i wont say much abt this brutal act is a worst side of mankind
    being muslim and being Pakistani i pray to Allah yeh azab illah hai
    humain maaf kar aur jo humaray dil murda ho chukay hain un main ik dafa phir apna noor bhar dey Ameen .Recommend

  • mubarik

    Ya Zulm mette ga Dharti se Ya Dharti he mitt jaey ge. Either it will be curlety that will vanish from the Pakistani land or the land it self will vanish, both cannot exist for long at the same time.Recommend

  • hus sain

    “During Ramadan, mosques are full of worshipers, and acts of charity increase, ties of brotherhood are strengthened, tempers are controlled and an atmosphere of peace prevails. According to psychologists, these are several of the beneficial aspects of conscientious fasting.”

    I pasted this from what I found on the internet about the Spirit of Ramadan.

    Now you figure out how a fasting frenzied crazed crowd in Sialkot
    demonstrated their tolerance forebearance love and sabr when they decided to brutally batter to death two innocent students aided and abetted by police and other gleeful specatators for playing cricket? Recommend


    Mr Asadullah Qureshi just because something like this is happening everywhere else in the world, does not make it ok for it to happen in a country riddled with radicalism and extremsism at every level. Your right, these people are not animals, as animals are not capable of such an act, indeed they do not brutally kill their own kind!
    it is only the lowest form of human- a rational animal- who can do this, hence why they should be punished.Recommend

  • hafsa

    yes you are right that these hatefull acts rise from amongst us. the inequality and the lack of law enforcement, unstable government, all of that contrubutes to it. all of those factors can be blamed. but its just sad that religion is blamed for such an act. there is no religion in what happened in sialkot. i do not think islam, our very own religion the bases that we were raised on should be blamed for thisRecommend

  • Nadia khan

    May allah rest theresoul on peace. Im very hurt and upset with what i have watched on the video footage iv cryed several times and im disturbed. I am ashamed to call my self a pakistani, the people who where involved with brutaly atacking these two inmcent brothers to death are in big truoble by allah there punishment awaits them in there grave. May allah give the boys family sabaar and may they get thruogh this easly even though you and i no how hard it is for people like me and us to forget this how will the mother feel, the father? im british born and have a daughter my husband whants me to move to pakistan to bring up my daughter there but i ask for what reason should i move? is it worth moving? Help us allah help pakistan.Recommend

  • Naeem Akram

    Bhai first of all, there is something wrong with us and God is definitely not happy with us. Just look at the chain of incidents happening in past few years… 2005 earth quake, war on terrorism, and devastating floods all indicate that we need to change… I’ve seen the video, even a small kid was hitting one of the killed persons with a stick… That’s the psychology of crowd… Someone was supposed to stop wild the mob… Police was there, and i say it was their duty… All the responsible police officers, and any identifiable civilian must be punished for the inhumanity…Recommend

  • zaigham

    None of us give a damn. Will you guys please stop this drama of pitying and feeling sorry. We are a strong nation. We stayed humans after those 5 women got buried alive. We stayed humans after Nawabzada Israrullah Zehri defended it as a tribal custom in assembly. And even when Nawabzada became a federal minister. After all what these two guys were. Don’t feel sad over them. A genius once said:

    When you die when there’s no one
    watching, Your ratings drops and you
    are forgotten But if they kill you on
    the TV You’re a martyr and a lamb of

    Don’t worry this too shall pass. Just wait for two days.
    Be cool guys…

  • Nabeel

    Imran khan yesterday: This man should be hand till death twice and then sdall be beaten by Iron roads

    This comment reflects exactly the extremist sense of morality and revenge that led to the tragedy. Everyone needs to condemn statements like this. Far too many people, right now, are calling for heads and want the murderers to be killed too. That’s exactly the sentiment that needs to end. Khoon ka badla khoon kab tak?Recommend

  • Shariq Qureshi

    Agreed with Nabeel, the comment by Imran khan shows what our society is turning into. Sialkot situation has seen light of the day but I wonder If any one can recall the incidents of robers being caught and beaten up by every passer by in Karachi and then being set on fire while very one else watched. It surprises me how people can actually decide the matter of life and death by giving justifications like, there is no justice and you would do exactly the same thing if you were robbed.

    I hope that this event will make some of us realise the value of human life, and pray that most of us would be more patient and sensible when such an incident is happening next to us or in front of us. Love for All, Hatered for none should be the Moto if we wish to improve the situation.Recommend

  • Feza Khan Yusufzai

    I don’t understand, why is everybody here seems to be ashamed of being pakistani? Its you, You make Pakistan, Pakistani people make Pakistan, its all of you, if government did not do anything to help, you did not do anything to help your “fellow pakistanis” either. Don’t blame government or be ashamed to call yourself pakistani! government did not tell you to not make a line when you go pay bill, to get grocery etc etc, government doesnt teaches you to push people just to get ahead in the line and have no respect for others. every small little thing makes a difference!Recommend

  • Balal Naeem

    I guess you are out of your mind. This blog post didn’t help in anything.Recommend

  • Hassan

    @Feza Khan Yusufzai

    i guess you have no freaken idea what all the people here are talking about.. its the mentality that we are ashamed off its the culture we are ashamed off its the people who identify them selves as Pakistani and Muslims who have done this and are watching this happen we are shamed off.Recommend

  • muyyu

    “Khoon ka badla khoon kab tak?”

    Well, sorry to point out but Sharia is indeed based on the principal — an eye for an eye.

    So is there any surprise that Pakistani, and indeed muslim society has becomes brutalized.Recommend

  • Shariq Qureshi

    Sharia? Who are we kidding? Why do we forget about forgiveness and never talk about the rights of human beings and keep ranting on and on about the revenge and eye for an eye dialogues? Are we forgetting that as per teachings of our religion those who forgive are better then those who seek revenge?Recommend

  • Shariq Qureshi

    Did any one check the article, “Do we even want this barbarism to stop”

  • muyyu

    @Shafiq Qureshi,

    Hmmm, forgiveness lets see…

    Volume 4, Book 56, Number 829:
    Narrated ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar:

    The Jews came to Allah’s Apostle and told him that a man and a woman from amongst them had committed illegal sexual intercourse. Allah’s Apostle said to them, “What do you find in the Torah (old Testament) about the legal punishment of Ar-Rajm (stoning)?” They replied, (But) we announce their crime and lash them.” Abdullah bin Salam said, “You are telling a lie; Torah contains the order of Rajm.” They brought and opened the Torah and one of them solaced his hand on the Verse of Rajm and read the verses preceding and following it. Abdullah bin Salam said to him, “Lift your hand.” When he lifted his hand, the Verse of Rajm was written there. They said, “Muhammad has told the truth; the Torah has the Verse of Rajm. The Prophet then gave the order that both of them should be stoned to death. (‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar said, “I saw the man leaning over the woman to shelter her from the stones.”

    No mercy here where it really counts does it?Recommend

  • Shariq Qureshi

    Now I am Amazed. My friend, I wasn’t by any means suggesting that the killers be pardoned. I was referring to the recent development of the concept general public taking revenge. In simpler terms, if the group of people who gathered to beat up those little kids had patience, or knew of forgiveness, they would not have gone to the extremes to show the hatred for “thieves”.

    Look around, what do you see? What happens when people get their hands on a pickpocket, or if some one stealing a bus is overpowered, what happens when a political leader dies, what happened when BB passed away? Its easy to say that its a conspiracy theory. But the fact is that we as a nation are becoming less patient and less forgiving, many suggest that taking revenge is completely islamic, and the concept of eye for an eye is referred to again and again.

    Justice should be done, but taking law into your own hands, taking life of a human, I would say that is another extreme.


  • Dia

    If we refer to the cocept of Qesas, according to Sharia, only one of the brothers’ life (that too if he was proven guilty of murder)had to be taken, and above all in a humane manner!! This was absolutely unislamic, barbaric, brutal and bears no relation to islam and sharia. Its just that some of us do not miss any opportunity to defame religion blaming it to be the root cause of every thing pertaining to terrorism and brutality! The thing is that its the absence of rule of law, lack of education, and yes, lack of human element and sympathy in the temperament of today’s average pakistani. Recommend

  • Nabeel

    muyyu, sorry to point out that sharia is also based on the principle of obeying authority and leaving judgement to the Qazi. In the tradition you quoted, sorry to point out that it was the Prophet who gave the order – none of us is even close to having that kind of authority. And like Shariq said, Islam asks you to forgive first, but gives you the flexibility to demand qisas if you are really that vengeful.

    generalizations about pakistan and muslim society are nonsensical, for you will never see such lynchings in saudi arabia (which adheres to the sharia more closely than any other state). and there are plenty of other countries where many muslims live – for example Indonesia and Malaysia. Are they brutalized societies too? And lynching originated in a decidedly non-Muslim society – America. Not to repeat that anti-American drivel, but just to point out that Islam or Sharia cannot be used to justify (or even explain) these acts of violence.Recommend

  • muyyu

    You are right, the Prophet did give the order for stoning to death the adulterous couple.
    Now flashback to the Sakinah case of Iran..The order has been passed by the Quazi for her being stoned to death (on the basis of the traditions & practises of the Prophet).
    I ask you again – where is the forgiveness, the humanity.
    If a crowd of ordinary people hurl stones to kill a helpless buried woman do you seriously think any vestiges of humanity would remain in them??
    Indonesia & Malaysia are not brutalized (yet) due to influences that have nothing to do with Islam. However make no mistake, they are moving inexorably in that direction. Check this Recommend

  • Nabeel

    Anecdotal evidence. You can hardly say ‘they are moving inexorably in that direction.’ Empirical evidence is needed for statements of the kind you pass, and you don’t have it so far. Again – are stonings commonplace? How often are people stoned to death? One or two incidents do not prove that Islam is brutal (or that it brutalizes). They are the exceptional, extreme cases.Recommend

  • Dia

    @Nabeel as I said, some people just dont miss an opportunity to defame religion!! Tell him/her that the order of stoning adulterate couple cannot be passed unless the act is witnessed by “4”!!! I cant imagine someone indulged in such activity in front of 4 witnesses! :)Recommend

  • Allah Ditta

    This incident same like wild animal.i deeply heart it.Recommend

  • muyyu

    I did not say that Indonesia has such a law, but that it’s moving in that direction starting with its province of Banda Aceh, please check it up. And you are right, Saudi Arabia follows Islamic Sharia more closely than any other country and because of this stoning to death IS there in its books. However it has not actually enforced this, as saudi is the US puppet & the US will not allow this.

    And for the person who spoke about the requirement for 4 witnesses, are they still required if the woman falls pregnant?

    The issue is not whether all Islamic countries have such a law or not but that there is such a law in Islam and countries which faithfully adhere to sharia (as they should) will end up brutalizing their populace. Recommend