Ain’t religion a marvellous thing?

"A Muslim cleric has been arrested in Pakistan after a teenage boy he mistakenly accused of blasphemy sawed off his own hand in a grisly act of penance.Mohammad Anwar, 15, hacked off his hand with a scythe after misunderstanding a question during a sermon in his village mosque.The cleric, Shabbir Ahmed, had just explained to worshippers that those who love the Prophet Muhammad must perform their prayers. He then called on anyone in the congregation who had stopped saying their prayers to raise their hand and confess it.One hand went up, as Anwar, apparently mishearing the question, raised his arm. The cleric then turned on the boy, according to witnesses questioned by police, denouncing him as a “blasphemer who was liable to be killed”.

Blasphemy can carry a death sentence in deeply conservative Pakistan and furious members of the congregation joined Mr Ahmed in accusing the child. Amid uproar, he fled the mosque in terror.To atone for his sin, Anwar then ran home and sawed off the hand he had raised. Placing it on a plate, he returned to the mosque and presented it to the cleric as a gesture of remorse.Despite learning of his mistake, the boy has no regrets about the incident, proudly declaring: “What I did was in love for the Prophet Muhammad”.His parents have spoken of their pride in his gesture, along with other locals. Police took action only after learning of the incident days later in the local press. No one in Anwar’s Punjab village, 80 miles south of Lahore, had lodged a complaint.

Mr Ahmed has however been arrested on terror charges, accused of inciting violence with his thunderous condemnation of the boy.The cleric has staunchly defended himself, pointing to the pride in the boy’s gruesome atonement shown by fellow villagers and even his parents. Anwar himself had his amputated arm stitched and bandaged at the local hospital.Other clerics have also called for Mr Ahmed to be released, emphasising the sensitivity of the issue. Blasphemy is such a serious allegation in Pakistan that parents have been known to murder their own children accused of committing the grievous sin.Even unproven allegations can spark mob violence and lynchings in the country’s most conservative, fiercely Islamist tribal regions.

Human rights groups claim that the country’s blasphemy laws are frequently abused, with unfounded allegations made to settle political, tribal or family scores. Critics say that blasphemy accusations are often used to persecute religious or ethnic minority groups.Scores of people have been killed in Pakistan under blasphemy laws that have become more draconian over time. A series of amendments in the 1980s prescribed life imprisonment for desecrating the Koran and the death sentence for insulting the Prophet.Secular politicians in Pakistan have sought to repeal the more punitive sections of the blasphemy laws but they face bitter opposition from religious parties and the real threat of violent retaliation.

Salman Taseer, a Punjab governor who tried to overhaul the blasphemy legislation, was assassinated in 2011. A few months later, the religious minorities minister Shahbaz Bhatti, who had also denounced the law, was shot dead in Islamabad."

"Hugh Tomlinson Last updated at 11:36AM, January 18 2016 Times of London

Any further comments by me on this appalling story would be superfluous.

Latest post: Safe spaces

David Amies

Lethbridge, January 30 2016



Regular readers will be relieved to learn that the Orthodox Jewish sages, who declared that children whose mothers drove them to school would not be admitted to class because their mothers’ behaviour was immodest, have gone over the relevant chapters in Leviticus and decided that their initial interpretation of the scriptural law was in error. It’s all right kids, you can go to school however you manage to get there. I believe that the authorities in the UK who supervise the operation of schools suggested that the sages had made fools of themselves and that they should have another look at the holy books. Unfortunately, there is no word yet about the Islamic cleric in Saudi Arabia changing his divinely inspired understanding of gynaecology. It is likely that he, too, will realise that he is an idiot and will seek some other interpretation of the scriptures.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the World, another bunch of holy men have declared that a recent earthquake involving Mount Kota Kinabalu was caused by a bunch of Canadian tourists who elected to climb to the top and pose naked for selfies.  It appears that the spirit of the mountain was  greatly offended and had no option but to trigger an earthquake. Seems entirely reasonable, does it not? Professional comics are fast becoming redundant. One can get all the laughs one needs from the antics of seers, sages and other holy men.

The following three incidents speak for themselves. Comment and questions are superfluous.

 A few days ago, Lester Bower, aged 67 years, was led from his jail cell in Texas and taken to an execution chamber and filled with lethal drugs. He had been living in his cell on death row for a little over thirty years and his execution had been delayed while legal appeals went through the courts. On one previous occasion, his execution had to be postponed because the drugs obtained had gone past their expiry date. In Kano, Northern Nigeria, a fourteen year old girl was acquitted of murder. She had been married off against her will to a man more than twenty years her senior and had somehow managed to lace the food to be eaten at the wedding party with rat poison. The husband and two others died. The girl was let off as she was considered to be a minor and thus too young to be convicted but old enough to be married. Albert Woodbox, a coloured man, who has been in solitary confinement in a Louisiana Jail for just under forty years, has been granted unconditional release by a judge. However, the attorney-general of the state disputes the ruling believing Woodbox, who is frail and elderly, poses a threat to the local citizenry. 

Latest piece: Two Books

David Amies,


June 13th, 2015