Cleric arrested for inciting boy to cut off his hand

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Lahore, Jan 17 (IANS) A Pakistani imam has been arrested on terrorism charges after a 15-year-old boy accused of blasphemy cut off his own hand believing he had committed blasphemy, the Dawn said on Sunday.

A police complaint was registered against the prayer leader, Shabbir Ahmed, under the Anti-Terrorism Act and other penal provisions, it said.

Police officials said the cleric was arrested for inciting violence during a speech in a Punjab village where he asked a controversial question.

He asked his audience “Who does not love the Prophet? Raise your hand.” The boy misheard the question and raised his hand.

The imam pointed to the boy and called him a “blasphemer who was liable to be killed”.

The boy, who felt ashamed after being called a blasphemer, cut off his own hand.

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“The 15-year-old maintains that the imam is (not to blame) while his act was reportedly celebrated by his parents and neighbours,” Dawn said.

Blasphemy is a sensitive issue in Pakistan, and even unproven allegations can stir mob violence and lynchings, the report said.

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