Pak police arrest four for ‘blasphemy’ after argument with religious cleric

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Islamabad [Pakistan], November 26 (ANI): Pakistani police have arrested four men charged with blasphemy following an argument with a religious cleric, Al Jazeera reported on Thursday.
Media reports say that the arrest was made in the eastern city of Lahore after an argument about whether a funeral announcement for a Christian neighbour could be made from a mosque.
The report said that the four men were charged under sections 295 and 298 of Pakistan’s penal code, which carry penalties of up to two years in prison.
The case occurred in the village near Lahore on November 18, Al Jazeera reported citing a local police official Faryad. “The men have been detained and we have presented them before the court,” he said.
According to the police report, the men argued with a local cleric after he refused to make a funeral announcement for a Christian man from his mosque.
Nadeem Anthony, human rights activist and lawyer has rebuked the case against four men as being unfounded.
“If there was a Muslim who in good faith wants to have an announcement such as this made in the community, it’s not an attack on someone’s faith, it’s a good cause,” said Anthony.
This comes as the increasing cases of blasphemy registered in Pakistan which continues to be a cause of concern for rights activists.
Pakistan has registered around 1600 blasphemy cases, which are mostly against religious minorities like Hindus, Christians, Shia and Ahmadiya Muslims from 1987 till today, according to several reports by rights groups.
A large number of these blasphemy cases in Pakistan are still awaiting justice. (ANI)