An angry mob carrying banners and chanting slogans attempted to storm the offices of the Dawn newspaper in Islamabad on Monday after the outlet corrected identified the London Bridge attacker as a “man of Pakistani origin.”
Last week, jihadist Usman Khan stabbed five people, two fatally, in Central London. Khan had been released from prison last year on license after having served a sentence for terrorist offenses.
In its report of the incident, Dawn noted that he was a “U.K. national of Pakistani origin,” unlike other newspapers in the country that described him as a born and raised British citizen with no links to Pakistan.
Although it is unclear just how closely connected to Pakistan, the claim that Khan was of “Pakistani origin,” presumably meaning that he is ethnically Pakistani, as verified by the left-wing Guardian, is correct.
In their report, Dawn caveated the claim with the fact that it was The Telegraph who reported that he was “a British citizen born in the UK and of Pakistani origin [who] left school with no qualifications after spending part of his late teens in Pakistan, where he lived with his mother when she became ill,” before returning to the UK and becoming radicalized.
Describing its version of events, Dawn reported that the mob “remained outside the office building for nearly three hours, besieging the premises and making the staffers hostage.”
“They prevented the employees from entering or leaving the building and demanded a written apology,” the newspaper noted. “Some of the protesters also misbehaved with the newspaper as well as Dawn TV employees when they arrived at the office.”
“After lengthy negotiations with the newspaper management in the presence of an assistant commissioner, the protesters finally agreed to disperse after hurling warnings,” they continued.
The incident was widely condemned by Pakistan’s more liberal political journalistic bodies, with the opposition Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari saying in a statement that “no one should be allowed to attack media outlets in the name of protest.” He also demanded “action against the crowd which attacked the newspaper office and vowed to side with the journalist fraternity.”
The leader of the National Party Ayub Malik also labeled the incident an “attack on media freedom,” calling for strict punishments against those responsible. The incident was also condemned by both the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) and the National Press Club (NPC).
Furious mob retaliation are common in Pakistan and is most often carried out by hardline Muslim groups against those who have supposedly violated the country’s strict blasphemy laws. In September, police arrested a Hindu principal on charges of blasphemy, prompting a mob to ransack his temple and damage a school and homes belonging to the minority group.