Chinese man charged with blasphemy in Pakistan after angry crowds gather - police


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By Jibran Ahmad

PESHAWAR, Pakistan - A Chinese worker was charged with blasphemy in northern Pakistan after angry workers surrounded his office accusing him of insulting the Prophet Mohammad, then stormed a police station to try to find him, officials said.

Police moved in as crowds gathered at the Dasu hydropower project in Kohistan district on Sunday afternoon and officers took the man to a safer location, police official Naseer-ud-Din Khan said.

Hundreds gathered again on Monday morning and stormed the main district police station, believing the man was hiding in the building, Khan added.

But officials, fearing the man might be attacked, had moved him to another district by military helicopter, Khan said. The man was charged and had so far declined to give a statement, police officials said.

Blasphemy is a crime under Pakistani law that can be punishable with death.

No one has ever been executed for it in Pakistan, but scores of people have been lynched after being accused of the crime, including a 23-year-old man in eastern Pakistan in February and a Sri Lankan factor manager in 2021.

Khan said the crowd attacked the police station as officers were preparing the prosecution paperwork on Monday. "The mob dispersed only after they were shown a copy of the case registered on blasphemy charges," he said. 

Rights groups say hundreds of people are languishing in prison accused of blasphemy as judges delay trials, fearing retribution against themselves.

A suicide attack on a bus killed nine Chinese workers from the same hydropower site in 2021.

(Writing by Asif Shahzad; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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