A nine-year-old Christian boy in Pakistan narrowly escaped death after he and his mother were arrested and jailed last week after being accused of burning the holy book of Muslims, the Quran.
The boy, Inzam, was accused of this offence while at school on Oct. 20, according to the London-based charity British Pakistani Christians Association.
As a result, he and his mother Shakil — who works at Civil Hospital in Quetta in the western province of Balochistan — were arrested the following day and charged with blasphemy, based on the testimony of an unnamed Muslim witness. In Islam, the penalty for blasphemy is death.
Politicians and humanitarian groups expressed alarm at the arrest of the mother and her son, seeing it as an attack on the Christian community. News of the Christians' apprehension sparked tension in the community, prompting the police to go on alert.
Due to mounting cries of injustice and the clamour for the release of the arrested Christians, Inzam and Shakil were released from police custody on Tuesday. Police officers handling their blasphemy cases later admitted that they found no evidence linking the mother and son to the alleged desecration of the Quran.
Despite their innocence, the two imprisoned Christians revealed upon their release that they were interrogated and tortured during their four days in prison, saying their interrogators tried to force them to confess to a crime they did not commit. The interrogators, however, failed to get any confession from them.
A separate report from the Pakistani Christian Post credited lawmakers and the leadership of the Sunni political party Jamiat Ulema Islam (F) for the release of the Christian boy and his mother from detention, and the dismissal of the blasphemy cases against them. The Muslim lawmakers reportedly worked with their Christian counterparts from the Provincial Assembly of Baluchistan to secure the release of the Christian mother and her son.