Chinese national accused of blasphemy arrested in Pakistan

Chinese national accused of blasphemy arrested in Pakistan

PESHAWAR — Authorities in northwest Pakistan said on Monday that a Chinese engineer has been detained for allegedly insulting Islam.

This put an end to heated rallies that had erupted against the foreigner overnight.

About 350 kilometres north of Pakistan's capital, Islamabad, the police identified the detainee as "Mr. Tian," head of heavy transport of the China Gezhouba Group Company working on the Dasu hydroelectric project.

The conflict started on Saturday when the Chinese manager attempted to pressure his local driving crew to speed up the pace of work while they were collectively praying at the workplace.

Official police complaint stated that the man "continued to make insulting remarks and derogatory gestures to disparage Allah and the Prophet of Muslims."

The project is being developed in the Kohistan area, and according to the police, the suspected blasphemy act infuriated the local workforce. As a result, heated demonstrations broke out Sunday evening, with hundreds of demonstrators blocking the key highway between Pakistan and China.

When the Chinese national was taken into prison and community leaders were given the assurance that he would face legal prosecution, the demonstrations stopped early on Monday morning, according to the police. The demonstrations had lasted for several hours.

In Pakistan, blasphemy is a serious offence that carries a death sentence, Mobs frequently assault suspects and occasionally lynch them. In most cases, the accused are found to be innocent.