Another Christian in Pakistan, 18-year-old Pervez Iqbal, was accused of blasphemy, beaten by a mob, and then arrested in Jhamkay town. According to reports, Iqbal is accused of burning a Quran, a crime punished by life imprisonment in Pakistan. False accusations of blasphemy are common in Pakistan as the country’s blasphemy laws are widely abused. Mostly motivated by personal score settling or religious intolerance, a disproportionate number of false accusations of blasphemy are leveled against Pakistan’s already vulnerable religious minority communities. Is Iqbal just another unfortunate Christian to be falsely accused of blasphemy in Pakistan?
08/21/2017 Pakistan (The Express Tribune) – A Christian teenager was brutally beaten up by a mob in Jhamkay town of Wazirabad tehsil, Gujranwala on Sunday over accusations of committing blasphemy.
AS (name withheld for security reasons), 16, was rescued by police and then shifted to the Ali Pur Chattha police station where he was booked under Section 295-B of the Pakistan Penal Code – punishable with life imprisonment – on the complaint of a pesh imam, Qari Rana Arshad Ali.
Ali Pur Chattha SHO Malik Irfan said the cleric had told the police that AS took away a copy of the Holy Quran from the shrine of Sundhay Shah in Jhamkay and set it on fire.
The complainant further claimed that AS, in the presence of a witness named Muhammad Nawaz, had confessed to his crime.
Sub-Inspector Pervez Iqbal, the investigation officer of the case, said two witnesses and the complainant had testified that the teenager had committed blasphemy.
He added that AS too had admitted that he had set the Holy Quran on fire, however he was unaware as to why he had committed the act.
The officer said as the suspect himself had confessed to his crime, there was no need for recording the statements of other witnesses.
“The police saved him from the enraged mob,” the sub-inspector said.
“His family should be grateful to the police. The mob surrounded the police station but we pacified the protesters with the help of the notables of the area,” he added.
However, SM (name withheld for security reasons), the father of the teenager, maintained that his son was falsely accused of committing blasphemy.
“He [AS] collects papers and used bottles from garbage and sells them to support our family. He also collects empty bottles from the shrine, which is around two kilometers away from our home,” he said.
“Muhammad Nawaz alias Maju, the witness in the case, also collects papers and bottles from the shrine. He has a grudge against my son as he doesn’t want him to collect scrap at the shrine because it hurts his business,” he added.