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Friday, April 19, 2024

Chinese Worker in Pakistan Jailed over strict Islamic Blasphemy Charges

Chinese Worker Faces Blasphemy Trial in Pakistan After Dam Protest.

A Chinese national who was working on a hydropower project in northwestern Pakistan has been arrested and charged with blasphemy, a crime that carries the death penalty in the country.

He will remain in jail for two weeks until his trial begins, according to a police officer on Tuesday. The man, identified only as Tian by the police, was accused of insulting Islam and the Prophet Muhammad by Pakistani laborers who were working with him on the Dasu Dam, the largest hydropower project in Pakistan. The incident allegedly occurred on Sunday, when Tian complained that two drivers were taking too long to pray during work hours.

The accusation sparked a protest by hundreds of residents and workers in the town of Komela, who blocked a key highway and demanded Tian’s arrest. The police intervened and took Tian into custody, saving him from a possible mob attack.

He was later transferred to a court in Abottabad, where he pleaded not guilty on Monday. He also claimed that he did not disrespect Islam or the Prophet Muhammad, said Arshad Khan, a local police officer.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Wang Wenbin, said on Tuesday that the embassy in Islamabad was following the situation closely. He also said that China always asks its citizens overseas to respect the laws and customs of their host countries. Blasphemy is a highly sensitive issue in Pakistan, where even unproven allegations can trigger violent reactions from the public.

The country’s blasphemy laws are often criticized by human rights groups as being vague and misused to target minorities and settle personal disputes.

Foreigners are rarely accused of blasphemy in Pakistan, but there have been some cases in the past. In 2021, a Sri Lankan man was lynched and burned by a mob at a factory in Punjab province over allegations that he desecrated posters with the name of the Prophet Muhammad.

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