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BLASPHEMY: Police arrest 4 men in Pakistan for challenging Imam for refusing to announce Christian funeral

Thursday, November 25, 2021

/ by Bobby Adams
Pakistani police officers 

Pakistani police on Wednesday have arrested four men charged with blasphemy after they argued with an ‘imam’ over whether a funeral announcement for a Christian neighbour could be made from a mosque.

According to Al Jazeera, a local police official Faryad, disclosed that the case occurred in the village of Khodi Khushal Singh, near the eastern city of Lahore, on November 18. 

“The men have been detained and we have presented them before the court,” he said.

The men, who were Muslim, argued with a local cleric after he refused to make a funeral announcement for a Christian man from his mosque, the initial police report says.

“As soon as they arrived [at the mosque], they started cursing the mosque’s imam, they disrespected the mosque and they insulted Islam,” reads the report.

Reacting to the report, a Pakistani human rights activists and lawyer, Nadeem Anthony, decried the case against the four men as being unfounded.

“If there was a Muslim who in good faith wants to have an announcement such as this made in the community, it’s not an attack on someone’s faith, it’s a good cause,” said the rights activist.

“So if someone announces [a funeral] on a loudspeaker, how is it a religious violation?”

Blasphemy is a sensitive subject in Pakistan, where strict blasphemy laws prescribe a mandatory death penalty for certain forms of the crime.

The four men were charged under sections 295 and 298 of Pakistan’s penal code, which carry penalties of up to two years in prison.

Pakistan has never executed a convict under the blasphemy laws, but accusations of the offence have increasingly led to murder by mobs or individuals. Since 1990, at least 79 people have been killed in such violence, according to an Al Jazeera tally.

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