There is no mention of what Samiullah may have written, or what an opportunistic school official seized upon to level the charge. But the past month of demonstrations in favor of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws has clearly shown the extent of public support for them.
As such, it is natural that we will not only see more cases, but even more frivolous ones as people look for an excuse to jump on the bandwagon — the blasphemy bandwagon. “Pakistan urged to free schoolboy arrested for blasphemy,” from BBC News, February 2:
Human Rights Watch has called on the Pakistani government to release a teenager who has been charged under the country’s controversial blasphemy law.
Muhammad Samiullah, 17, is under arrest in the southern city of Karachi.
He is accused of blaspheming against the Prophet Muhammad in an examination paper. Human Rights Watch called the boy’s case “truly appalling”.
Same question as ever: Whose prophet? The very idea of protecting Muhammad, a mortal man, from “blasphemy” smacks of shirk — the grievous sin in Islam of allegedly worshiping someone other than Allah. In the words of James Thurber, “you might as well fall flat on your face as lean over too far backward.”
The blasphemy law has been in the spotlight since a Christian, Asia Bibi, was sentenced to death in November. [...]
“Pakistan has set the standard for intolerance when it comes to misusing blasphemy laws, but sending a schoolboy to jail for something he scribbled on an exam paper is truly appalling,” said Bede Sheppard, senior children’s rights researcher, at Human Rights Watch.
There is no way not to misuse these laws. The only truly meaningful reform would be to repeal them.
“It’s bad enough that a school official flagged it, but for police and judicial authorities to go ahead and lock up a teenager under these circumstances is mind boggling.”
Everyone wants in on the action.
The alleged incident, reported by an invigilator, took place during high school final examinations, called intermediate exams, in Karachi’s North Nazimabad neighbourhood.
Police officials said they arrested Muhammad Samiullah after a complaint was lodged by the chief examiner of the intermediate board on 28 January.
He was later produced in court where the magistrate sent him to a juvenile detention, while police pursue their investigations.