A Hindu head teacher was accused of blasphemy by a teenager, which sparked riots in the town of Ghotki in the Sindh province of Pakistan.
The principal, who also owns the school, was accused of making comments about the Prophet Muhammad, which is prohibited under the blasphemy law in Pakistan. As a result, a large mob attacked a Hindu temple, shops and the school in the town.
The school principal was taken into custody and faces blasphemy charges that could lead to death penalty. Meanwhile, the rioters have also been charged under the blasphemy act for attacking a temple but will not face a death sentence.
According to Pakistani media, 43 people were arrested in connection with the riots. Some of them have been charged with rioting and theft.
Dr Jamil Ahmed, the additional inspector general of the local police force, tweeted “Alleged accused in a sensitive case of Ghotki is now in the custody of police. Situation in Ghotki is back to normal within 12 hours. Fair investigation is being done after confirming facts and justice ensured. Cases against hooligans are being registered and miscreants being nabbed.”
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has condemned the attacks on Twitter and stated “The video… is chilling: mob violence against a member of a religious minority is barbaric, unacceptable.”
Pakistani’s blasphemy laws have sparked international interest after Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian who spent eight years on death row, was released from jail earlier this year. A Supreme Court decision overturned her conviction but her release sparked riots, forcing her to leave the country and go to Canada.
Under the blasphemy laws, it is a crime to disturb a religious assembly, trespass on burial grounds, insult religious beliefs or intentionally destroy or defile a place or an object of worship. They were expanded with a clause that prescribed life imprisonment for willful desecration of the Koran and death or life imprisonment for blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad.