• Monday, October 03, 2022

ASIA

Blasphemy: 36 arrested in Pakistan for attacking police station

By: Chandrashekar Bhat

PAKISTANI police have arrested 36 men on charges of attacking a police station in a bid to lynch two brothers held in custody for allegedly desecrating a mosque, officials said.

A mob broke into the police station on the outskirts of capital Islamabad on Monday (17), resulting in hours of standoff with police.

The arrested men have been charged under anti-terrorism laws. Police said they took the brothers, accused of blasphemy, to safety along with some wounded officials.

“Give us the accused. We will decide what to do with them,” police officer Asim Ghaffar quoted the mob as saying. “They said they wanted to behead the accused.”

Islamabad deputy commissioner Hamza Shafaat said most of the arrested men were refugees from Afghanistan.

The two brothers were accused of blasphemy for allegedly tearing up a banner inscribed with the names of the companions of Prophet Mohammad from the outer wall of a mosque, police said. They also pelted the mosque with stones, police said.

Insulting the Prophet or desecrating places of worship carries a mandatory death penalty or life in prison in Pakistan that has the harshest blasphemy laws in the world.

A European Union parliament resolution adopted last month called for stripping Pakistan of tax exemption on its exports to the bloc for its failure to stem a rise in blasphemy accusations.

The resolution also called on Pakistan to “unequivocally condemn” incitement to violence and discrimination against religious minorities and expressed “deep concern” at the prevailing anti-French sentiment.

A hardline Islamist group clashed with police last month in several days of violent anti-France protests, calling for the expulsion of the French ambassador over cartoons depicting Prophet Mohammad published in France.

Eastern Eye

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