After Boy Mishears Imam, a Severed Hand, an Arrest

15-year-old Pakistani boy cuts off own hand after being called 'blasphemer'
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 17, 2016 1:00 PM CST
After Boy Mishears Imam, a Severed Hand, an Arrest
Pakistani Muslims leave after offering afternoon prayer at Memon mosque in Karachi, Pakistan, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015.   (AP Photo/Shakil Adil)

It was a simple misunderstanding of a question asked by a holy man, but it cost a 15-year-old Pakistani boy his hand, and landed an imam under arrest. Imam Shabbir Ahmed was giving a sermon at a mosque in Punjab province, reports al Jazeera, when he asked his congregation who among them did not love the prophet Mohammed. Mishearing, 15-year-old Mohammed Anwar raised his hand, reports Reuters, and was immediately singled out by Ahmed as a "blasphemer." The boy went home, and reportedly with his father's approval, cut off his own hand to atone for his imagined sin; he later presented the limb to the imam on a plate, reports the AFP.

All of which landed Ahmed under arrest Saturday evening on charges of inciting violence; he's due in court on Monday. "Such illiterate imams of mosques should not be allowed to deliver speeches," the local police chief tells Reuters. "His arrest is under the National Action Plan that hate speeches inciting violence are no longer allowed in this country." Blasphemy is a hotly debated topic in Pakistan, note the news agencies: It is not defined under Pakistani law, but the penalty is death, though that has never been enforced. (More blasphemy stories.)

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