Pakistani police detain four people for blasphemy

Pakistani police arrested four men and charged them with blasphemy after arguing with a 'imam' (religious cleric) about whether a funeral notice for a Christian neighbour could be broadcast from a mosque.

The incident occurred on November 18 in the town of Khodi Khushal Singh, near the eastern metropolis of Lahore, a local police official named Faryad told Al Jazeera on Thursday. He responded, "The males have been seized, and we have submitted them to the court." According to the initial police complaint, the guys clashed with a local priest after he refused to make a funeral announcement for a Christian man from his mosque.

According to the complaint, "as soon as they arrived [at the mosque], they began denigrating the mosque's imam, disrespecting the mosque, and insulting Islam."  The four individuals were accused under Pakistan's penal code sections 295 and 298, which carry sentences of up to two years in prison.

Pakistan has never executed a blasphemy convict, but charges of the crime have increasingly led to mob or individual murders. According to an Al Jazeera reports, at least 79 people have been killed in such violence since 1990.

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