Pakistani Christian boy on the run after $10,000 offered for his body

A fatwa has been declared against a young Christian boy in Pakistan after he was accused of blasphemy.

Imran is now on the run and a $10,000 reward has been offered for his body after Muslim colleagues accused him of watching an anti-Islamic video on this phone. Fellow Christians in his village in Punjab, Pakistan have been given three options: convert to Islam, leave the village forever, or hand over Imran so he can be burnt.

Protesters hold up placards condemning Pakistan's strict blasphemy laws, which are sometimes used to target Christians.Reuters

This is according to the Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS) who help persecuted Christians in Pakistan. In a statement they say one of Imran's Muslim work colleagues, Bilal, took Imran's phone and looked up the anti-Islamic videos on YouTube. Imran was then accused of blasphemy for having the videos.

Imran was beaten and locked away, but was released by members of the local Catholic church.

However three days later Imran discovered that Bilal had explained the situation to Muslim scholars who had issued a fatwa against him. A fatwa is a religious decree and means it is permitted for Imran to be killed.

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News of the fatwa spread and a decree was issued from the local mosque to encourage Muslims to impose a boycott on Christians. Shopkeepers have stopped selling food to resident Christians and a local businessman offered 10 lakh Pak-rupees (nearly $10,000) for his body. At this point Imran fled.

Local media outlets have now reported that Christians in Imran's village face a choice of convert, leave, or hand over Imran, according to CLAAS.

Nasir Saeed, director CLAAS UK, said local Muslims had "no right to impose any of these conditions".

He said: "I cannot believe that such things are still happening in this world. Such treatment towards Pakistani Christians is a slap on the face of the Punjab and central government, and to all those who never tire of telling the world that minorities are protected and enjoying equal rights in the country.

"I don't understand how watching a video on the internet can be criminalised as an act of blasphemy. And if this is blasphemy then all those who watch this video or any other videos against Islam have committed blasphemy and everyone should be arrested, charged and punished under the blasphemy law.

"I believe this is not an act of blasphemy and if people still think Imran has committed blasphemy then he should be punished according to the law. No one has any right to take the law into their own hands, harass local Christians, threaten them, burn Imran alive or force Christians to convert to Islam or leave the village.

"Such conditions from lay people make a mockery of the law. The Government of Pakistan must take this matter seriously, provide protection to the local Christians, and those who are breaking the law should be dealt according to the law."

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