Catholics in Pakistan
Archdiocese of Lahore

Christian boy arrested over blasphemy charges

A Christian teenager was arrested and imprisoned for allegedly burning pages of the Holy Quran in a village near Wazirabad, Punjab, officials said Sunday.

Alipur Chattha police station official Asghar Ali told AFP: “On the night of August 12, police received a complaint that a Christian boy had been found burning pages of the Holy Quran outside a shrine.”

Ali claimed the 18-year-old had been caught “red-handed” shortly after the complaint had been registered against him, AFP reported.

“He is in jail now,” Ali told AFP.

The incident was confirmed by another local police official, Pervaiz Iqbal, who is investigating the case.

“When the police took the suspect into custody and brought him to a police checkpost, a crowd of around 200 men gathered outside… demanding the culprit be handed over to them,” Iqbal said.

He said the suspect had been “secretly moved” to a police station in Wazirabad where he was interrogated and allegedly confessed to his crime.

Christian man in Lahore arrested over allegations of blasphemy

The teenager was charged under Section 295-B of the Pakistan Penal Code, Iqbal added, referring to a law that hands life imprisonment to “whoever wilfully defiles, damages or desecrates a copy of the Holy Quran or of an extract therefrom, or uses it in any derogatory manner or for any unlawful purpose”.

He will stand trial.

Blasphemy is a sensitive charge in Pakistan, where even unproven allegations can trigger mob lynchings and violence.

A man was sentenced to death for committing blasphemy on Facebook in June.

In May, a 10-year-old boy was killed and five others wounded when a mob attacked a police station in an attempt to lynch a Hindu man charged with blasphemy for allegedly posting an incendiary image on social media.

At least 65 people have been murdered by vigilantes over blasphemy allegations since 1990.

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