Authorities should charge or release five university students in Jordan for alleged “Devil worship” allegations, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said.
The students from Al al-Bayt University have been detained since March 12, 2013, after other students accused them of “desecrating the Quran.”
“Jordanian authorities should release the five students and take steps to protect them from further attack,” said Eric Goldstein, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.
A group of 200 pupils attacked the five students after a rumor had it they had been ripping and burning the Quran in the campus bathroom, a detained student’s sister told HRW.
Campus officials and student activists managed to pull the five students to safety, but local authorities then detained them and later handed them over to the security services
The day after the incident, a Jordanian news website, Ammon, posted an interview with a Salafi Sheikh, Mohammad Shalabi, who said it was permissible for Muslims to kill the five because they “have been marked as infidels,” adding, “We hope to see their punishment soon.”
The Sheikh, who is also known as Abu Sayyaf has not denied the interview, which still remains online.
The Sheikh remarks appear to have led to other calls for the students to be killed in messages posted on the Facebook social networking site and news websites, prompting fears for their safety and doubts about whether they will be able to complete their university studies in Jordan.
“They should also investigate reported statements that appear to call for the students’ deaths and prosecute their authors if they amount to direct incitement to murder” added Goldstein.
The father of one of the five told Human Rights Watch that, according to his lawyer, the authorities have not filed any charges.
HRW said the students deny the allegations and have not been charged or take before a judge. But, HRW declared that those who attacked the university students should be brought to justice.
“The authorities should hold to account anyone who joined in this witch hunt and committed acts of violence. They should not be allowed to walk free while their victims are locked up” said Goldstein.