Brother of Pakistani social media star arrested for her murder | News | DW | 16.07.2016
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Brother of Pakistani social media star arrested for her murder

Police in Pakistan have arrested the brother of social media star Qandeel Baloch for her murder. Authorities claim he has confessed to the crime.

Muhammad Wasim was arrested late Saturday and reportedly told police he had drugged his sister and then strangled her.

"Wasim confessed to his crime, saying he killed his sister for honor after her recent objectionable videos, mostly posted on Facebook," Multan City police chief Azhar Akram said on Sunday.

Qandeel Baloch was killed on Friday night at her family's home near Multan. Wasim went on the run before being arrested in the neighboring Muzaffargarh district. In a police complaint, Wasim's father accused him of killing Baloch for honor because he "wanted her to quit showbiz."

The killing of Baloch sent a wave of shock and revulsion through the country.

No apology

At a press conference arranged by police, the brother was unapologetic: "I have no regrets," he told journalists.

Wasim is to be charged with carrying out a so-called honor killing and the maximum punishment" will be sought, according to the police chief, In Pakistan this includes a death sentence, which is ineligible for a family pardon, a form of legal forgiveness in Pakistan.

Media response

One of Pakistan's leading newspapers has editorialized that her killing exposes the sexism and misogyny that women face in the country.

"The death of Qandeel Baloch conveys an insidious message: that women will be kept back at all cost; murdered, if they dare nurture ambitions to break the glass ceiling," the English daily Dawn newspaper wrote in an editorial on Sunday. "Her murder...must serve as an impetus for legislators to renew demands for legislation to protect women who are threatened under false notions of 'honor.'"

Her candid videos, pictures and commentary on her personal life stirred controversy in conservative, Muslim-majority Pakistan, but garnered her many fans online. Her Facebook videos have been viewed millions of times.

Last month, a scandal broke out after she posted pictures of herself with Mufti Qavi, a prominent cleric, adding that the two enjoyed cigarettes and soft drinks during the day in the holy month of Ramadan. During the month, practicing Muslims fast from sunrise until sunset.

Qavi denied the allegations and said he only discussed religious matters with her during their meeting.

Local media reported Baloch, whose real name was Fauzia Azeem, struggled to balance her conservative family's values with her social media activity and frequently received threats from the public.

She reportedly asked for authorities to provide protection for her, but did not receive it.

Over 500 people are killed each year in Pakistan in "honor killings" which are usually carried out by members of the victim's family for bringing "shame" on the community.

Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif vowed to push through anti-honor killing legislation in February, but no action has been taken since then. A recent slew of attacks on women has been condemned by activists.

rs/jm (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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