With the hysteria over the arrest of a Christian girl with Down’s syndrome on a charge of blasphemy yet to blow over, the brutally tortured body of an 11-year-old Christian boy has been found in Pakistan’s Punjab province.
The body of Samuel Yaqoob, was discovered with his lips and nose cut off, his stomach removed and his legs mutilated. According to police the body was later burned and could hardly be recognized.
Relatives identified the corpse from a distinctive mark on the boy’s forehead.
Yaqoob, a resident of the Christian Colony of Faisalabad, had been missing since August 20, last seen on his way to a local market. His mutilated remains were found on Eid-Ul-Fitr holiday, which marks the end of the month-long Muslim fast of Ramadan.
Detectives are investigating whether accusations of blasphemy had previously been filed against the minor. Yaquub was believed to be an orphan, but The Telegraph reports that his mother was quoted in the local press denying any allegations were made.
"We neither received any phone call for ransom nor were we told that Samuel had committed blasphemy," she said.
When a Christian group is suspected of transgressing the blasphemy laws, the consequences can be brutal, reports the World Public Forum NGO.
The death of the 11-year-old comes a week after a young Christian girl with Down’s syndrome was charged with blasphemy after reportedly burning pages of a Koran.
Rifta Masih was beaten by local Muslims after they witnessed her allegedly torching pages of the sacred book when cooking. Several hundred Christians have fled their homes following the incident in fear of violence after local mosques reported the alleged incident over loudspeakers, and hundreds of Muslims taken to the streets.
In Pakistan, those accused of blasphemy are subject to instant imprisonment and most are denied bail to prevent mob violence. As a rule, the accused are placed in solitary confinement for their own protection against harassment from inmates or guards.
Those that have been acquitted from the charges, often leave the country, one of the strictest enforcers of Sharia law in the world, reports the Washington Post. In Pakistan, slandering Islam or its holy book is punishable by death.
There have been no executions for blasphemy, though Asia Bibi, a mother of five and a Christian, was sentenced to death two years ago. Bibi has not been executed as of yet, and may be pardoned of her death sentence.
Christian minister Shahbaz Bhatti and Pakistani government politician Salmaan Taseer were both assassinated for opposing the blasphemy laws in connection with Bibi’s case.
Last month, a man accused of desecrating a Koran was dragged from a police station by a mob and beaten to death.
According to Human Rights Watch researcher Ali Dyan Hasan, "The [country’s blasphemy] law creates this legal infrastructure which is then used in various informal ways to intimidate, coerce, harass and persecute."