x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Doctor arrested for blasphemy over business card

Medical rep called Muhammad complained to police in Pakistan that his business card being thrown into a bin was insulting to the Prophet.

KARACHI // A doctor has been arrested for insulting the Prophet Mohammed in Pakistan, police said today, iafter he threw into a dustbin the business card of a man called Muhammad.

Naushad Valiyani was detained on Friday after a complaint by a medical representative who visited the doctor in the city of Hyderabad.

The regional police chief, Mushtaq Shah told AFP: "Faizan accused Valiyani of committing blasphemy and asked police to register a case against the doctor."

Mr Shah said the issue had been resolved after Mr Valiyani, a member of Pakistan's Ismaili community, an offshoot of Shiite Islam, apologised, but local religious leaders intervened and pressed for action.

"Valiyani had assured Faizan that he did not mean to insult the Prophet Mohammed by throwing the visiting card in the dustbin," Mr Shah said, adding that the police had registered a case under the Blasphemy Act.

A Pakistani court last month sentenced to death Aasia Bibi, a Christian mother-of-five found guilty of blasphemy.

Ms Bibi was arrested in June 2009 after Muslim women claimed that she made derogatory remarks about the Prophet Mohammed. She was set upon by a mob, arrested by police and sentenced on November 8.

The government attempted to pardon Ms Bibi after an international outcry over the case, but a Pakistani court prevented it from granting her a swift pardon.

She can be executed only if the Lahore high court upholds her sentence on appeal. No date has yet been set for the appeal hearing.

Most of those convicted of blasphemy in Pakistan have their sentences overturned or commuted on appeal through the courts.

Only around three per cent of Pakistan's population of 167 million are estimated to be non-Muslim.