- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Pakistani authorities have arrested an imam on terrorism charges after he falsely accused a 15-year-old boy of blasphemy and then fled his village after the boy severed his own hand in repentance.

Shabir Ahmad, an imam in the village of Khanqah, southwest of Lahore, denounced Anwar Ali, 15, as a blasphemer during evening prayer services on Jan. 10, The New York Times reported. Mr. Ahmad had reportedly asked for a show of hands of those who did not love the Prophet Muhammad. Anwar misunderstood the question and eagerly shot his hand up to declare his love for the prophet, according to witnesses and the boy’s family. The boy quickly realized his mistake, but it was too late. Mr. Ahmad and the crowd started to shame him until he “fled in disgrace,” the Times reported.

The distraught boy reportedly went home and chopped off his right hand with a scythe. He returned to the mosque the next day to show the imam, who then fled Khanqah to avoid punishment.

Police arrested Mr. Ahmad Sunday, holding him on terrorism and other charges, the Times reported.

“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 district police chief, Faisal Rana.

The boy and his family, however, maintain that the cleric should not be punished.

“We are lucky that we have this son who loves Prophet Muhammad that much,” Muhammad Ghafoor, Anwar’s father, told The Times. “We will be rewarded by God for this in the eternal world.”

“What I did was for love of the Prophet Muhammad,” added Anwar.

Family members buried the boy’s hand in the village graveyard, The Times reported.

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