As many as 27 employees of electronics giant Samsung Pakistan were held in Karachi on Friday following violent protests by a religious party over a “blasphemous” QR code.
TLP activists in Karachi destroy the mobile market and breakdown SAMSUNG billboards. They allege that Samsung has introduced a blasphemous QR code.
Blasphemous QR Code ? Can somebody enlighten me please. Thanks.
— Mir Mohammad Alikhan (@MirMAKOfficial) July 1, 2022
A spokesperson for the Karachi South police claimed that the Station House Officer (SHO) of Preedy Police received information that a “WiFi device” had been installed at Star City Mall, which allegedly played comments against the companions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
READ MORE: Blasphemy case lingers on for Christian youth in Pakistan
Reports quoted witnesses as saying that the protesters damaged Samsung signboards at the mall, resulting in the closure of the entire mobile phone market.
Protest against alleged blasphemy of a WiFi device in Karachi. Mob gathered after a WiFi device installed in Star City Mall, allegedly posted blasphemous comments. Protesters vandalised Samsung billboards accusing the company of blasphemy. Police detained 27 Samsung employees. pic.twitter.com/3R8UYbScqa
— Naila Inayat (@nailainayat) July 1, 2022
“Realising the gravity of the matter, the Preedy SHO rushed to the spot, got the device shut, and seized it,” they said.
While the police, with the help of the Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) CyberCrime Wing, are trying to ascertain who was responsible for installing the device, Samsung Pakistan has issued a statement, saying the company maintained neutrality on religious sentiments.
Samsung Pakistan – Press Release July 1st, 2022. pic.twitter.com/IVSpAkH8Lm
— Samsung Pakistan (@SamsungPakistan) July 1, 2022
“Samsung Electronics has reiterated its firm stance that it endeavours to maintain objectivity on all matters of religious significance … with reference to the recent developments in Karachi, Samsung Electronics stands firm on its stance that the company has the utmost respect for all religious sentiments and beliefs and holds the religion of Islam in utmost respect,” it said.
The company has also launched an internal investigation into the matter.
BLASPHEMY IN PAKISTAN
Blasphemy is a sensitive subject in Pakistan where mere accusations often provoke mob violence and lynching of suspects, while penalties are light for those who make such false accusations.
READ MORE: 80-year-old ‘beheaded’ for alleged blasphemy in Sargodha
According to human rights organisations, at least 84 people were killed after being suspected or accused under the blasphemy laws since their promulgation as part of former military ruler Ziaul Haq’s Islamisation during the 1980s.
Mobs lynched two people and injured two others in four cities of Pakistan between December 2021 and March 2022.
Sri Lankan national Priyantha Kumara, 48, was accused of committing blasphemy at the factory he managed in Sialkot and was beaten to death by a mob last December whereas a mentally challenged person, Mushtaq Ahmad, was in February this year stoned to death by an enraged mod after the son of a local cleric accused him of burning pages of the Holy Quran in Khanewal.
The continuous rise in incidents of violence over unproven blasphemy allegations has time and again prompted Ulemas to vociferously condemn such practices and declare the killing of any person under such circumstances as un-Islamic.
The courts have the authority to punish the perpetrator of blasphemy and taking the law into one’s hands is not permissible according to both Sharia and law of the land, they say.