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Friday 28 December 2012

Mentally ill man on blasphemy charges dies in police custody

A 22 year old, Nadeem Yousaf, was detained (not arrested) on accusations of blasphemy in the Nankana Sahib area.  He was alleged to have burned the Quran in a mosque, and the inevitable mob that ensued beat him and wanted to burn him alive - just like has already happened at least twice in Pakistan this year.  The police managed to save him, but had to sneak him out the back door of one police station and into another to avoid the mob that besieged the first police station.

After that, nothing.  8 days later he was found dead.  The police claim he died of natural causes.  Others claim he was forgotten and just starved to death (the police were having to deal with policing an Islamic festival with sectarian tensions).

It turns out that the local Uleema (Islamic) council had investigated and said there was no case to answer, no actual evidence against him.  That didn't stop the mob trying to murder him, and it didn't stop him from somehow ending up dead anyway whilst in so-called 'protective custody'.  That pretty much sums up the situation with the blasphemy laws - fabricated evidence or no evidence at all means you are screwed no matter what you do.  As one source pointed out, even if his beating did not contribute to his demise, being accused of blasphemy causes sheer terror and stress, which can be a contributory factor to a death.  

The boys father, Yousaf, said he was mentally unstable, and that he would not be pressing charges against the police.

The original newspaper article said the victim was a Christian, and this is how it has widely been reported, but the newspaper has since published a correction saying that it was incorrect to call him a Christian.  However, neither does it state he was Muslim.  We don't know the truth of this, as sources from Pakistan have said he was indeed a Christian.  Perhaps the paper is trying to prevent attacks on Christians.  Either way, whatever his faith background, Nadeem is yet another sad statistic in the endless line of victims of Pakistan's wicked and corrupting blasphemy laws.

Sources  1 2 3

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