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‘We fear backlash’ Pakistani boy, 8, becomes youngest person to be charged with blasphemy

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The child is being held in protective custody in East Pakistan after being released on bail last week. Last month, the Hindu boy was accused of intentionally urinating on a carpet in the library of a madrassa (Islamic religious school) where religious books are held.

The alleged incident caused outrage among the predominantly Muslim population.

Following his release, the boy’s family and many other Hindus in the Rahim Yar Khan community near Punjab went into hiding or fled their homes after an angry mob attacked a Hindu temple in retaliation – damaging statues and burning down the temple’s main door.

A member of the boy’s family, who wished to remain hidden, told the Guardian: “He [the boy] is not even aware of such blasphemy issues and he has been falsely indulged in these matters.

“He still doesn’t understand what his crime was and why he was kept in jail for a week.

“We have left our shops and work, the entire community is scared and we fear backlash.

“We don’t want to return to this area.

“We don’t see any concrete and meaningful action will be taken against the culprits or to safeguard the minorities living here.”

The charge against the eight-year-old is unprecedented, according to legal experts, who said no one this young had ever been charged with the offence before.

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Rimmel Mohydin, Amnesty International’s South Asia Campaigner, urged the authorities to drop the charges and repeal the “pernicious legislation”.

She said: “Pakistan’s blasphemy laws have long been abused to target minority groups, but this case marks a shocking and extreme departure.

“As well as ensuring that these ludicrous charges are dropped, Pakistan’s authorities must immediately provide adequate protection for the boy, his family, and the wider Hindu community.

“Those responsible for the ensuing mob violence must also be held accountable.”



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