8-Year-Old Boy Faces Blasphemy Charges

Hindu child and his family are now in hiding in Pakistan
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 9, 2021 8:25 AM CDT
8-Year-Old in Pakistan Charged With Blasphemy
File photo of a police officer in Pakistan.   (AP Photo/Pervez Masih)

Blasphemy charges are not unusual in Pakistan, but the age of the latest suspect most definitely is: Authorities have charged an 8-year-old boy, who is currently in protective custody, reports Euro News. The boy is Hindu, and he is accused of urinating in the library of a Muslim temple where sacred texts are kept. The charges could bring the death penalty, though that appears to be unlikely. The bigger threat, reports the Guardian, is the mobs that already have set upon a Hindu temple in Punjab and sent the boy's family and other Hindu families into hiding. The decision to charge such a young suspect has surprised legal authorities and drawn condemnation from groups such as Amnesty International.

"Pakistan’s blasphemy laws have long been abused to target minority groups, but this case marks a shocking and extreme departure," says the group in a statement, demanding that the "ludicrous" case be dropped. The boy has not been identified, but the Guardian has spoken to family members in hiding. “He is not even aware of such blasphemy issues and he has been falsely indulged in these matters," says one relative. "He still doesn’t understand what his crime was and why he was kept in jail for a week." The boy is believed to be the youngest person ever charged with blasphemy in the Muslim-majority nation. A government official in neighboring India is demanding that Pakistan protect Hindu families in the wake of the arrest. (Read more Pakistan stories.)

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