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Pakistan Urged To Drop 'Ludicrous' Blasphemy Charges Against 8-Year-Old Hindu Boy


A Pakistani Hindu woman rings a bell to celebrate Diwali at a local temple in Lahore. Hindus make up less than 4 percent of Pakistan's overwhelmingly Muslim population of around 216 million people.

Amnesty International has demanded that Pakistan better protect Hindus and other minorities after authorities there charged an 8-year-old boy under notoriously harsh blasphemy laws, sparking a mob attack on a local Hindu temple.

The youngster reportedly was accused of blasphemy after he was said to have urinated in the library of a madrasah, an Islamic religious school, in the village of Bhong in Punjab.

Insulting Islam is punishable by death in Pakistan, although no one has been executed over blasphemy charges.

Critics say the laws are unevenly applied and frequently abused to settle personal disputes.

Rumors of blasphemy can lead to mob lynching and mass protests.

"Pakistan's blasphemy laws have long been abused to target minority groups, but this case marks a shocking and extreme departure," Amnesty quoted its South Asia campaigner, Rimmel Mohydin, as saying.

"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."

Mohydin also urged that those who carried out the ensuing attack on the temple be held accountable.

Twenty arrests have already been made in connection with the storming of the temple, which sparked a unanimous resolution in Pakistan's National Assembly condemning the attack.

The boy is said to be in protective custody and his family is in hiding.

Amnesty said it was "not clear under which specific clause the boy has been charged" but noted that Pakistan's blasphemy laws are "overbroad, vague, and coercive, enable abuse, and violate...international obligations."

Hindus make up less than 4 percent of Pakistan's overwhelmingly Muslim population of around 216 million people.

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