Pakistani boy chops off own hand after being accused of blasphemy

A Pakistani boy chopped off his own hand in repentance after being falsely accused of blasphemy.

Pakistan's blasphemy laws have been criticised both internationally and by Pakistani citizensReuters

Anwar Ali, aged 15, attended an evening prayer gathering last Friday at his local mosque in Khanqah, Pakistan, when the imam Shabir Ahmad asked for a show of hands of those who did not love the prophet Muhammad.

Ali, the son of a poor labourer, mistook the instruction and thought the cleric had asked for those who did love the prophet, according to the New York Times. He immediately raised his hand and only realised his mistake when no one else followed, quickly putting his hand down.

However at this point Ahmad had already started screaming "blasphemer!" at him.

The boy fled and cut off his right hand, returning to the mosque with the freshly severed hand on a plate.

Upon seeing what the boy had done, the mullah also fled, fearing retribution. He was quickly caught and locked up by police.

However, local religious authorities protested his detention and Ahmed was released, only to be re-arrested after international coverage of the incident over the weekend.

"There is no physical evidence against the cleric of involvement, but he has been charged for inciting and arousing the emotions of people to such a level that the boy did this act," said the district police chief, Faisal Rana.

Anwar's family said the cleric had done nothing wrong and instead praised their son for his faithfulness.

"We are lucky that we have this son who loves prophet Muhammad that much," said his father. "We will be rewarded by God for this in the eternal world."

The teenager also defended the mullah and his self-amputation.

"What I did was for love of the prophet Muhuammad," he said.

Pakistan's notorious blasphemy laws have been widely condemned by human rights campaigners. The crime carries the death penalty and although few cases ever make it to court, the accusation frequently raises such strong emotions that it has led to mob lynchings and violence.

Yesterday Pakistan lifted a three-year ban on YouTube which had been instilled because of anti-Islamic videos. The government announced Google had given it the right to block content it did not see as appropriate.