The Buner police have arrested an Afghan refugee in a blasphemy case. The arrest was made on Monday evening on the complaint of a shopkeeper.
The suspect, who lived in a refugee camp, has been charged under sections 295-A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting Its religion or religious beliefs) and 295-C (use of derogatory remarks in respect of the Holy Prophet PBUH) of the Pakistan Penal Code.
The refugee runs a shop in Buner. The accusation has been made by the owner of his neighbouring shop, Muhammad Rizwan. Rizwan claimed that he heard the suspect use derogatory language against the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and he told it to the other shopkeepers. After this, the shopkeepers gathered outside his shop. The police were called to the site and they detained the suspect.
Following this, protesting shopkeepers gathered outside the police station and asked the law enforcers to surrender the suspect to them. They even attacked the station and four policemen were injured. The police resorted to aerial firing to disperse them.
On Tuesday, all traders kept their shops closed and staged a protest at Sawari Bazar Chowk. They even appealed to all area lawyers to not represent the suspect in the case. The protesters said that they want the shopkeeper to be punished according to the law.
DSP Nasir Khan confirmed the arrest. He said that the police are investigating the charges.
JUI-F member Mufti Fazal Ghafoor told SAMAA Digital that the said person will be presented in court on Wednesday. Area residents have said that the suspect has made controversial statements in the past too. The current charges against him are weak but the shopkeepers plan on gathering all previous evidence against him and submit it in court.
He speculated that the suspect has been making controversial statements so that he could seek asylum in Germany.
The former MNA remarked that the protesters had initially asked for the suspect's custody but he spoke to them to cool them off. The state is responsible for punishing the suspect and the people can't take the law into their hands.
Such cases are quite sensitive because the society then doesn't readily accept such people so we have to tread carefully, Ghafoor added.
Blasphemy accusations in Pakistan
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom wrote in its 2019 report that at least 80 people are imprisoned in Pakistan jails for blasphemy and at least half of them are facing a life or death sentence. According to Al-Jazeera, at least 77 people have been killed in the country over blasphemy accusations since 1990.
Blasphemy cases elicit strong emotion in Pakistan. People often emerge to support men who kill over it. Qibla Ayaz, the chairman of the Council of Islamic Ideology, finds that this happens because people do not know the teachings of Islam on the matter. The Council of Islamic Ideology is a constitutional body that advises lawmakers whether a certain law is repugnant to Islam.
“In Islam, no one can declare any person an infidel,” Qibla Ayaz told SAMAA Digital earlier. In fact, clerics of all sects agreed upon this in January 2018 at the Paigham-e-Pakistan conference in Islamabad. “It is totally unacceptable in Islam for a certain group to take the law into its own hands, declare people infidels, start killing them in the name of commanding good and forbidding from evil.”