New Delhi, November 25 (IANS): Pakistani police have arrested four men on charges of blasphemy after arguing with an “imam” (clergyman) over whether the announcement of a Christian neighbor’s funeral could be made from a mosque, officials said, Al Jazeera reported.
The case took place in the village of Khodi Khushal Singh, near the eastern city of Lahore, on November 18, local police official Faryad, who bears a name, told Al Jazeera on Thursday.
“The men were detained and we brought them to court,” he said.
The men, who were Muslims, had an argument with a local cleric after he refused to announce the funeral of a Christian from his mosque, according to the initial police report.
“As soon as they arrived [at the mosque], they started to curse the imam of the mosque, they disrespected the mosque and they insulted Islam, ”the report read.
The four men were charged under Articles 295 and 298 of the Pakistani Penal Code, with sentences of up to two years in prison.
Pakistan has never executed a convict under blasphemy laws, but the offense charges have increasingly led to killings by mobs or individuals. Since 1990, at least 79 people have been killed in such violence, according to an Al Jazeera count.
Pakistani human rights activists have denounced the case against the four men as unfounded.
“If there is a Muslim who wants in good faith that an announcement like this be made in the community, it is not an attack on someone’s faith, it is a good cause,” said human rights activist and lawyer Nadeem Anthony.
“So if someone announces [a funeral] on a loudspeaker, how is that a religious violation? “