Pakistani student and teacher accused of blasphemy

Agence France-Presse
Pakistani student and teacher accused of blasphemy
Any disrespect to the Koran is punishable with life imprisonment under the conservative Muslim country's controversial blasphemy laws

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – A Pakistani teenager and his religious teacher have been accused of blasphemy, police told the Agence France-Presse on Friday, October 14, after the student was allegedly caught burning pages of the Koran.

The teenager, a student at a Muslim seminary in Kasur district in Punjab province, was spotted by residents burning the pages of the Islamic holy book, local senior police official Miraz Arif Rasheed told AFP.

When asked what he was doing, he said his teacher had told him that burning was the correct way to dispose of old Korans.

Islam’s holy text is believed by Muslims to be the word of God spoken through the Prophet Mohammad directly to mankind. For that reason the words themselves are held sacred, meaning Muslims must dispose of their old Korans with great respect.

Religious scholars approve of two ways – wrapping the book carefully in a cloth and burying it in the ground, or placing it in flowing water so the ink is washed away from the pages.

Any disrespect to the Koran is punishable with life imprisonment under the conservative Muslim country’s controversial blasphemy laws. 

Such disrespect could also spark mob violence: an angry mob torched a factory in Punjab province in November 2015 after one of its employees was accused of burning pages from the Koran in the boiler.

“Both the student and (teacher) have been booked under the blasphemy law section 295B, which contains life imprisonment as the only punishment,” Rasheed said. 

The case emerged one day after Pakistan’s Supreme Court delayed an appeal against the death sentence meted out to a Christian woman in 2010 for blasphemy.

Asia Bibi was accused of insulting the Prophet Mohammed, punishable by death under the blasphemy laws, in a notorious case that has seen rights groups and the Vatican call for her release. 

Her final court appeal was due to be held Thursday in Islamabad, but was delayed after one of the three-judge bench claimed he had a conflict of interest. No new date has been set. –

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