by Salman Hameed (From the blog www.irtiqa-blog.com)
I don’t know the current status of Umair Asim. His name is not mentioned in the story below. It is possible that he was arrested in the initial stage (along with his mother and father) but now only his father is in jail (and he is in hiding). But it is also possible that most of the focus is on his father, and his name doesn’t make it in the news. In any case, his 77-year old father’s appeal for bail has been denied. Yes – apparently his crime is so severe that he cannot even be granted bail. Oh – yes. His crime is that he is the principal of a school where one of his teachers is accused of blasphemy.
Here is from Express Tribune:
LAHORE: A court on Saturday refused bail to the principal of a school caught in a blasphemy row over a piece of homework allegedly containing derogatory references to Prophet Mohammed (PBUH).
Asim Farooqi, 77, was remanded in custody for 14 days on charges of blasphemy despite arguing he had no direct part in the case.
One of his teachers, Arfa Iftikhar, was forced into hiding after a furious mob stormed Farooqi Girls’ High School in Lahore over a piece of homework she set.
“The bail petition is dismissed,” Judge Anjum Raza announced after hearing arguments from Farooqi’s lawyer.
The lawyer, Jawad Ashraf, had asked for bail on the grounds the principal had no role in the incident.
“The principal of the school can only be held responsible for negligence and has no direct role in the blasphemy incident, he should be released,” he told the court.
About 10 clerics from local mosques gathered at the court to oppose the principal’s release.
But at the same time around 2,000 students, parents and teachers gathered at the school to demand its reopening, carrying placards and chanting slogans which included: “Release our principal.”
What a shameful mess! All of our hopes and best wishes for Umair’s father in this horrid time. I also have all the sympathies for the teacher – Arfa Iftikhar – who is in the hiding. This so much reminds me of the stories of various witch trials in Europe. Someone accidentally does something and his/her life is changed dramatically for the worse.
Salman is an astronomer and Associate Professor of Integrated Science & Humanities at Hampshire College, Massachusetts. Currently, he is working on understanding the rise of creationism in contemporary Islamic world and how Muslims view the relationship between science & religion.