Home Scope Chinese Man Taken Into Protective Custody after Blasphemy Row

Chinese Man Taken Into Protective Custody after Blasphemy Row

by AFP
Razed Christian homes in the Joseph Colony area of Lahore. Arif Ali—AFP

Razed Christian homes in Joseph Colony, Lahore. Arif Ali—AFP

Commission to determine veracity of blasphemy charge against Chinese national.

A Chinese man working on the Neelum-Jhelum hydropower project in Pakistan-administered Kashmir was taken into protective custody after hundreds of enraged Muslims attacked his company’s office claiming that he had desecrated the Quran.

Lee Ping, the administration manager of a Chinese consortium building the dam, has been accused by his Pakistani coworkers of throwing the Quran on the ground.

“We have taken [Lee] into protective custody after protests erupted in the company when Pakistani laborers saw him throwing the belongings of a Pakistani worker including the Quran,” said senior police official Sardar Gulfraz.

Lee was moving the belongings of a Pakistani doctor after he had refused to vacate his room for relocation. “Dr. Sajid had a dispute with the company management about the relocation of his room. He refused to vacate the room and [Lee] threw out all his belongings in anger,” said local police official Raja Anser Shahzad. “Local laborers saw [Lee] throwing out luggage, including the Quran, and they started protesting. Later, people from outside the company also joined the rally and around 1,000 protesters attacked the offices.”

Police said the incident happened at midday Friday. “They broke vehicles and windows inside the company premises. We have called in extra police to protect installations and have also moved Lee to a secret location for protective reasons,” said Gulfraz.

Blasphemy is a sensitive issue in Pakistan, where 97 percent of the 180 million population are Muslims, and even unproven allegations can spark a violent public backlash. Rights campaigners argue the blasphemy laws, for which the maximum penalty is death, are often abused to settle personal scores and should be reformed.

Authorities said a commission had been formed to determine the veracity of claims against the Chinese national. “[Lee] will be charged under the blasphemy laws only after this commission confirms that he was involved in a serious violation,” said Gulfraz.

In March, over 3,000 furious Muslims rampaged through the Joseph Colony area of Lahore, looting property and burning buildings after a Christian was accused of blasphemy.

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