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9 Y/O Pakistani Boy Facing Death Penalty After Muslim Accused Him of Burning Quran Released From Prison

( [email protected] ) Oct 28, 2016 11:53 AM EDT
A 9-year-old Christian boy facing the death penalty after being accused of burning the Quran has been released from prison thanks to the efforts of politicians and humanitarian groups.
Pakistan's notorious blasphemy laws often target Christians, who make up just one percent of the country's population. Reuters

A 9-year-old Christian boy facing the death penalty after being accused of burning the Quran has been released from prison thanks to the efforts of politicians and humanitarian groups.

According to the London-based charity British Pakistani Christian Association, the little boy, Izhan, was at school in the town of Quetta when he was accused of burning a copy of Islam's holy book by a local Muslim.

The next day, he and his mother, Shakil, who works as a nurse at a nearby hospital, were arrested without the police conducting an investigation into the blasphemy allegations - a crime carrying the death penalty.

"News of the arrests created huge community tension, however prompt police action prevented threats to the Christian community and the formation of a mob from becoming a full scale attack on an innocent Christian community," reads the BPCA report.

Pakistani human rights activists quickly went to try and secure the release of the child and his mother, and officers from BPCA, along with other human rights advocates, spent the four days after the arrest calling for their freedom.

The two Christians were released last week, and police confirmed that no evidence of any alleged Quran desecration was found.

Pakistan's notorious blasphemy laws often target Christians, which make up just 1.6% of the country's population. According to BBC News, "scores" of Christians have been found guilty of desecrating the Koran or of blasphemy since 1990.  

Earlier this year, a young Christian boy in Pakistan was charged with blasphemy and forced to run for his life after Muslim leaders offered a $10,000 reward for his body because he was falsely accused of viewing anti-Muslim material on his phone.

Last month, a 16-year-old boy was arrested for allegedly posting an image of the Kabba in Mecca on his Facebook page. The crime should have received a maximum of a 10 year sentence - however, in a recent ruling, a judge increased the charge, meaning the teen could face death by hanging. The teen's family have been forced to flee their home in Bhai Pheru for fear of violence as their son awaits trial in prison.

Pakistan, the world's second largest Muslim country, is ranked #6 on the Open Doors 2016 World Watch List of the worst persecutors of Christians, and has received the maximum score in the violence category.

Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, condemned Pakistan's blasphemy laws, saying "they serve no purpose but to cause pain and anguish to innocent victims."

"They are used as tools for discrimination and to settle personal vendettas," he said. "International bodies like the UN turn a blind eye to the impact of such laws to the detriment of global society.  Their failure to respond is simply creating schism and animosity and the rise of Islamophobia, despite the fact most liberal Muslims despise the laws themselves."

He added, "Pakistan's refusal to reform or abrogate these laws should be recognized as a contravention of human rights especially freedom of religion, conscience and free speech. Action must be taken now before Pakistan a nuclear nation reaches a point of no return, especially considering the whipping up of hatred towards minorities that Imams in Pakistan use the laws to generate."

Tags : Pakistan, Christian, blasphemy, blasphemy laws, Qur'an, Koran, death penalty