David Frum

09.19.12

In Pakistan, it's Blasphemy if You Don't Riot

pakistan-protests-flag
Pakistani activists of the hard line Sunni party Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) burn a US flag during a protest against an anti-Islam movie in Lahore on September 19, 2012. (Arif Ali/AFP/GettyImages)

A Pakistani man has been charged with blasphemy after refusing to assist in organized protests against the controversial film, "Innocence of Muslims."

The incident in the city of Hyderabad began when hundreds of protesters rallied Saturday. Some protesters demanded that businessman Haji Nasrullah Khan shut his roughly 120 shops in solidarity, said police officer Munir Abbasi. When Khan refused, one of his tenants said his decision supported the film, the officer said.

The protesters claimed Khan insulted the Prophet while arguing with them, said city police chief Fareed Jan. But he said there was no evidence to suggest the insults really occurred and that police only opened a blasphemy case because they were pressured by the mob. Opening such a case doesn’t mean the person is necessarily charged with the crime but that police are investigating him or her.

Protesters ransacked Khan’s house, and surrounded a police station, refusing to go away until officials opened a blasphemy case, Abbasi said.