8 year old Pakistan boy charged with blasphemy faces death penalty for urinating in Muslim religious school. Boy’s family goes into hiding.
An 8-year-old Hindu boy has become the youngest person ever to be charged with blasphemy in Pakistan after he intentionally urinated in the library of an Islamic religious school. The incident has since set off a series of retributions by the predominantly Muslim community.
The boy is now being held in protective custody and his family is in hiding, the Guardian reported.
The child allegedly urinated on a carpet in the library of a madrassa, or religious school, where religious books were kept inciting discontent amongst predominantly Muslim locals.
A blasphemy charge in the deeply religious country can carry the death penalty.
‘He is not even aware of such blasphemy issues and he has been falsely indulged in these matters. He still doesn’t understand what his crime was and why he was kept in jail for a week,’ a family member told the Guardian.
Where is @Malala ?
A #Hindu temple is being burnt and they are shouting “Allah Hu Akbar”
Why are you silent and why is the whole world silent about this horrible activity in #Pakistan ?@POTUS @UN @KamalaHarris @TarekFatah @ShefVaidya @AdityaRajKaul @gauravcsawant
— Anita Chauhan (@anita_chauhan80) August 5, 2021
Retribution attack on Hindu community
Added the family member, ‘We have left our shops and work, the entire community is scared and we fear backlash. We don’t want to return to this area. We don’t see any concrete and meaningful action will be taken against the culprits or to safeguard the minorities living here.’
Many members of the Hindu community in Rahim Yar Khan, a conservative district in Punjab, have fled their homes after a Muslim crowd attacked a Hindu temple in the aftermath of last month’s incident.
Up to 50 people have been arrested in connection with the attack on the temple. Police were searching for another 100 suspects the dailymail reported.
‘The attack on the temple and blasphemy allegations against the 8-year-old minor boy has really shocked me. More than a hundred homes of the Hindu community have been emptied due to fear of attack,’ Ramesh Kumar, a lawmaker and head of the Pakistan Hindu Council, told the Guardian.
The case has shocked activists and legal experts, who say the blasphemy charges filed against the child is unprecedented as no one so young has been charged with blasphemy before.
Pakistan’s blasphemy laws have long been criticised by rights groups because they are seen as vague and widely abused in order to dangerously discriminate against religious minority groups in the Muslim-majority country.
No executions have been carried out in the country since the death penalty was introduced for blasphemy in 1986, but suspects are often attacked, at times fatally, by mobs, the Guardian reports.
New wave of religious persecution
But the blasphemy laws are also seen by activists as giving cover to vigilantes to attack those accused of the crime, whatever the courts decide.
Human rights activist Kapil Dev called for the charge against the young boy to be dropped.
‘Attacks on Hindu temples have increased in the last few years showing an escalating level of extremism and fanaticism. The recent attacks seem to be a new wave of persecution of Hindus,’ Dev told the Guardian.
Police spokesman Ahmad Nawaz said: ‘Police are hunting the attackers and police teams are conducting raids to arrest the culprits but there has been no arrest made yet.’
Prime Minister Imran Khan has weighed in, condemned the mob attack, saying he has ordered the provincial police chief to take action against anyone involved and promised that the government would restore the temple.
Muslims and Hindus have mostly lived peacefully in Pakistan, but there have been attacks on Hindu temples in recent years. Most of Pakistan’s minority Hindus migrated to India in 1947 when India was divided by Britain’s government.