Muslim accused of hitting Bible with shoe arrested in rare blasphemy case in Pakistan
The man, in his 50s, was arrested in the city of Rawalpindi, near the capital Islamabad, at the weekend and remained in custody after appearing in court, police officer Mohamed Rizwan said on Monday.
Arrests for insulting Islam or Muslim prophets are common in the Islamic republic, but blasphemy laws are rarely invoked for insulting another religion.
“I would say it is very rare, if not unprecedented,” said Sabookh Syed, an Islamabad-based researcher.
The man was a Christian but had converted to Islam a couple of years ago, said Rizwan, who is investigating the case.
“He appears to be in a stable mental condition,” he added.
Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, which were introduced by former military ruler Ziaul Haq in the 1980s, allow the death penalty as the maximum punishment for insulting religion or the Prophet Muhammad.
Human rights activists say the laws have been used against followers of other Muslim religions and beliefs who are a minority in the Sunni-majority country, such as Shiites and Ahmadiyya.
About 90 people accused of blasphemy have been murdered since the 1980s by individuals or angry mobs before their court trials were concluded.