68 lawyers charged with blasphemy in Pakistan

Sixty-eight Pakistani lawyers have been charged with blasphemy for shouting slogans against a police officer named after a companion of Prophet Muhammad.

PTI| Last Updated: May 13, 2014, 18:54 PM IST

Lahore: Sixty-eight Pakistani lawyers have been charged with blasphemy for shouting slogans against a police officer named after a companion of Prophet Muhammad.

The Kotwali police have registered an FIR under blasphemy law against 68 lawyers, including 60 unknown members of the District Bar Association in Jhang, some 160 kilometres from Lahore, on the complaint of a citizen.

The FIR was filed after lawyers of the district bar association held a protest against Kotwali Station House Officer Umar Daraz for detaining one of their colleagues.

Later, a man filed a complaint against lawyers, saying they had shouted slogans against Umar Daraz and the mention of the name "Umar", the second Caliph of Islam, had hurt his religious sentiments.

If found guilty, the lawyers could face three years in prison.

Umar Ibn al-Khattab, a close companion of the Prophet Muhammad, was the second Muslim caliph and is revered by Sunni Muslims.

"It is an extra-ordinary FIR in which the lawyers who were protesting against the police highhandedness were booked under the blasphemy law," an advocate said.
Blasphemy is an extremely sensitive issue in Islamic Pakistan and insulting the Prophet Mohammed can carry the death penalty.
Pakistan`s strict blasphemy laws have been criticised by rights groups, who say they are frequently misused to settle personal scores.