Sixteen Year Old Faces Death For Blasphemy

From BPC:
A 16 year old boy named Shahzad has been arrested under the blasphemy laws of Pakistan for disrespecting the Islamic prophet Muhammed which automatically generates a death sentence

Yesterday Shahzad's family had to flee a potential a mob lynching after hate speech was preached from a local mosque calling for the death of Shahzad and his family.

His family are now unable to trace Shahzad and his brother Shafqat has advised that the police station were Shahzad is being held is refusing to confirm he is there and will not permit the family access to the vulnerable youth.

Shahzad despite his young years was working as a sweeper at Shahmim Riaz Hospital in Dinga City, Punjab province. He and several members all worked at the same institutions as caretakers.

During a religious conversation with a Muslim man named Ishtiaq Qadri on 13th July, Shahzad was accused of blasphemous remarks. A previous debate a month earlier was cut short by Dr Tariq at the hospital but this time without his intervention Shahzad was out of his element.  Friends and family of Shahzad say the conversation was instigated by Mr Qadri who was intent on converting all Christians to Islam.

Mr Qadri and some friends allegedly associated with the extremist group Tehreek-e-Tuhafaz forcibly took Shahzad to a mobile phone shop and then a madrassa (Islamic school), where it is believed he was beaten and forced to say a confession for committing a blasphemy.  Unlike the extremist groups members Shahzad had never before exhibited any signs of hatred towards Muslims or people of other faiths.

A mob in excess of 50 party activists later marched Shahzad to City Police Station Dingha  where they protested for the immediate arrest of Shahzad. An FIR was registered by the police who immediately arrested Shahzad and initiated a blasphemy law proceeding.

Dinga has a population of about 80,000 people of whom 150 are Christians all residing in an extremely deprived Christian colony near the city's railway station.

In response to the allegations, an X-marked photo of Shahzad was being shared on social media with the caption 'laanat' (shame). On a TV interview Imam Gazi Saqib Shakeel on behalf of Tehreek-e-Tuhafaz has demanded that 'the Judiciary give Shezad Masih the worst possible punishment so that in future no one dare to commit blasphemy again ever.'

'If the government fails to punish him then We Tehreek-e-Hafiza take oath to kill him from our own hands as we can’t bear this.', He said.

Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, said:

"It is with great sorrow that I hear of another vulnerable Christian teenager accused and arrested for a blasphemy, under highly questionable circumstances.

"These draconian laws are being used as a tool for discrimination and forcible conversion every day and the world stays silent. This poor boy will now face a most daunting court case and will lose most of his life in prison, moreover in the current climate a sentence could lead to his death via judicial or extrajudicial process.

"This boy and his family need our prayers and support and BPCA will provide every possible support towards the safety of the family and ensuing legal battle."

Last year a 16 year old boy named Nabeel Masih was accused of sharing blasphemous images on facebook

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