Pakistani police confirmed Sunday that an 18-year-old Christian boy arrested on blasphemy charges will face the death penalty if convicted.
Police arrested Asif Massih Aug. 12 after locals lodged a complaint alleging that Massih burned pages of a Quran, according to Al Jazeera. Pakistan’s blasphemy laws sentence those who deface the Muslim holy book to death. An angry mob demanded that police hand Massih over to them to be killed, which prompted police to secretly move Massih to another location. (RELATED: Britain Pressures Pakistan To Repeal Blasphemy Laws As Pakistan Celebrates Independence From Britain)
“When the police took the suspect into custody and brought him to a police check-post, a crowd of around 200 men gathered outside … demanding the culprit be handed over to them,” Pakistani police official Pervaiz Iqbal told AFP. “We then secretly moved the culprit to the police station in Wazirabad where he was interrogated and confessed to his crime.”
The death penalty is mandatory for anyone who desecrates the Quran, according to section 295-B of Pakistan’s criminal law. British MPs recently sent a letter to Pakistan’s president and prime minister on the 70th anniversary of Pakistan’s independence from Britain, urging them to repeal the blasphemy laws. The laws have been used to target religious minorities, and have engendered vigilante violence against those accused of blasphemy.
Massih will stand trial and, if convicted, will be killed.
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