November 09, 2012
Blasphemy laws are darkening Pakistan's skies
A Lahore girls' school has been burned to the ground and an astronomer's family arrested because of this tool of intolerance.
Salman Hameed in The Guardian:
...on 31 October the school was burned to the ground by a crowd who had heard it was accused of blasphemy. Lab equipment and computers were looted. Hundreds of library books – obviously with little use to the mob – tossed into the fire. Some even tried to pull the marble tiles off the floor.
The blasphemy accusations are not related to astronomy. Instead, they centre on a teacher at the school, Arfa Iftikhar. In a rush for the start of the Eid holiday, she accidentally missed a page while copying a homework assignment for the class. Her mistake merged a line about the prophet of Islam with the lines of a chapter on beggars. A parent of one of the students in her class noticed it, and the chatter of blasphemy spread quickly.
It did not matter that this was an unintentional mistake. In the current climate, it is comically easy to accuse someone of blasphemy in Pakistan. In fact, in this instance, the blame was also extended to the school administrators, including Asim.
The accused teacher is now in hiding and the police have arrested the 77-year-old principal of the school.
Posted by S. Abbas Raza at 08:32 AM | Permalink