With blood streaming in my eyes, I struggle to cover my head in order to ward off the blows coming from all directions. I tried to shout out to ask them to stop, but I could only croak and no sound came out. The mob drew closer and closer to me till I felt my world darkening and closing in on me. The last I remember hearing is the sound of my skull cracking with the impact of a harsh blow, and while entering the dark vortex of unconsciousness, my mind drifted to the events of the morning.
I was a University student at Abdul Wali Khan University in Mardan; conscientious, hard working and well liked by my teachers. Living in the hostel, I missed the warmth and love of my home, but I also valued the importance of education. Other than participating in discussions in the classroom, I also enjoyed reading about the world on the internet as I was pursuing a degree in Journalism. At the end of each day, I would enter my hostel room, and after washing up, would open my books to study hard and achieve my dreams of becoming a journalist. My room was my haven and I felt a sense of inner peace each time I read the posters I had put up on the walls with cheap tape, ‘Allah is the greatest and Prophet Muhammad is the messenger of God’. This love for my religion and Prophet gave me strength, and made my life away from my beloved family easier to bear.
Today the day started in a strange way; my hostel room is ransacked and my things thrown around to my sheer disbelief. As I start walking towards the University building, some students surround me and accuse me of blasphemy. ‘Blasphemy, me!’, I wonder as I remember the posters adorning the walls of my room. The crowd around me swells and the voices become louder and louder; the shouting sounds are making a reference to my Facebook account where anti Islam sentiments have been expressed. My mind flashed to the Facebook status I had recently updated “I don’t have another Facebook account and if someone sends you a request with my ID and display picture, please report to me”. I try to shout above the din that that was not me on Facebook, and that it was a fake account, but my voice gets lost in the shouts of the mob. “Fake account, someone is trying to show a negative image of me’ I repeat again and again and again, but no one is listening to me. As the first blow hits me, I reel backwards and fall on the ground; I’m petrified, hurt, bleeding and I want to go home. As another blow hits me, I miss the loving arms of my mother who was always there to protect me. As the third blow bends me over, I think of my father and his desire that I should become a successful journalist.
As the blood gushes out of my head with unbearable pain, I am convinced I don’t want an education anymore; I’m convinced I don’t want a University degree if this is what humans can become in a sacred place of learning. As the lynching continues, I feel myself losing consciousness for the last and final time. I take a deep, last breath and utter the prayer, “God is the greatest” before fading into nothingness.
My name is Mashal Khan and I am innocent.