Six persons charged with blasphemy in Pakistan

Written by PTI | Lahore | Updated: May 14 2014, 20:04pm hrs
Six persons from the minority Ahmadi community in Pakistan have been charged with blasphemy for allegedly tearing an Islamic calender, in the latest case to highlight growing intolerance in the country.

According to an FIR, the six torn an Islamic calendar hanging on the wall of a shopkeeper during a religious debate with him yesterday in Sharqpur village, some 70 kilometres from here.

After the incident, several Al-Sunnat Wal Jamat activists held a demonstration and blocked the Lahore-Sharqpur road for several hours to protest against the minority community.

They demanded exemplary punishment for the accused.

They later dispersed after senior police officials assured them of action against the accused.

The Ahmadi community of Sharqpur village felt vulnerable after the incident as most of the families reportedly left their houses due to fear of backlash from Muslims.

Meanwhile, the police launched raids and managed to arrest three persons involved in the incident.

The police in Punjab Province said yesterday had filed blasphemy charges against a group of 68 lawyers who staged a street protest against a senior police official named after a companion of Prophet Muhammad.

In 2011, Salmaan Taseer, the governor of Punjab, and Shahbaz Bhatti, the minister for minorities, were shot dead in separate attacks after advocating changes to the law.

Blasphemy is an extremely sensitive issue in Islamic Pakistan and insulting the Prophet Mohammed can carry the death penalty.

Pakistan's strict blasphemy laws have been criticised by rights groups, who say they are frequently misused to settle personal scores.