On March 20, 2019 a student reportedly killed Khalid Hameed, a professor of English at the Government Sadiq Egerton College (GSEC), in apparent retaliation for the professor’s role in organizing a mixed-gender event on campus.
Hameed had reportedly been tasked with organizing a welcome reception for new students at GSEC, a government higher education institution where women represent the majority of the student population. On March 19, two days before the scheduled reception, a heated disagreement allegedly broke out between Hameed and a student, Khateeb Hussein, on the GSEC campus. Hussein reportedly argued that the mingling of male and female students would be “against the teachings of Islam,” and that the event should be cancelled.
The morning after their argument, Hussein reportedly went to Hameed’s office and attacked him, stabbing the professor in the head and stomach. Hameed was transported to a local hospital, but died later that day. Police arrested Hussein, who reportedly claimed he attacked Hameed for having “spoken against Islam.” Hussein remains in custody as of this report.
In response to the murder, the Punjab Professors and Lecturers Association reportedly demanded Hussein be tried under Pakistan’s anti-terrorism laws and further called on GSEC to ensure the safety of its staff.
Scholars at Risk is concerned by the killing of a professor in apparent retaliation for academic and administrative conduct. SAR offers the victim’s family and the university community condolences and reminds state authorities of their responsibility to ensure the security of higher education communities, to prevent future attacks, and to hold perpetrators of violent attacks accountable. While students have a right to freedom of expression, they must exercise this peacefully and responsibly. In addition to the harm done to the immediate victim, such incidents have a chilling effect on academic freedom, institutional autonomy, and democratic society generally.