A young Hindu boy in Pakistan faces execution after the alleged crime of… peeing on a carpet.
According to The Guardian, the 8-year-old has been charged with blasphemy, and is accused of intentionally urinating on a sacred carpet at a madrassa — an Islamic religious school — where religious books were kept.
The boy was released on bail last week, and the local Muslim community wasn’t exactly happy about it: an outraged Muslim mob reportedly attacked a Hindu temple in retaliation, prompting police to make 20 arrests. Watch the chaotic scene unfold (below).
The boy is the youngest person in the country to ever be charged with blasphemy, which is punishable by death. Now he and his family were forced to flee their homes in Punjab and are now in protective custody — presumably so a mob doesn’t carry out the sentence instead.
Yet despite the uproar, the boy’s family claims he still doesn’t even know what he did wrong. One family member told the publication, from an undisclosed location for their protection:
“He is not even aware of such blasphemy issues and he has been falsely indulged in these matters… He still doesn’t understand what his crime was and why he was kept in jail for a week.”
While it’s hard to believe an 8-year-old doesn’t understand why people would be angry at him for peeing on a carpet — especially intentionally — it’s ludicrous to imagine he could possibly understand the greater ramifications of the act.
The family member also went on to accuse law enforcement of failing to appropriately punish the Muslim mob members that drove them away from their home, sharing:
“We have left our shops and work, the entire community is scared and we fear backlash. We don’t want to return to this area. We don’t see any concrete and meaningful action will be taken against the culprits or to safeguard the minorities living here.”
Meanwhile, hundreds of other Hindu families are said to have also been forced to flee the area in fear of more attacks. Human rights activist Kapil Dev told the outlet:
“I demand charges against the boy are immediately dropped, and urge the government to provide security for the family and those forced to flee… Attacks on Hindu temples have increased in the last few years showing an escalating level of extremism and fanaticism. The recent attacks seem to be a new wave of persecution of Hindus.”
Human rights groups allege the country’s blasphemy laws are used primarily for persecuting religious minorities. Per the US Commission in International Religious Freedom, around 80 people are known to be incarcerated in Pakistan on blasphemy charges; half of those people face either life in prison or the death penalty.
Although nobody has been legally executed since the penalty was introduced in 1986, mobs tend to take matters into their own hands: over 75 people were murdered for blasphemy between 1987 and 2017.
We hope this boy and his family stay safe.
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