LAHORE, Pakistan — Pakistani police say they have arrested a 16-year-old Christian boy on blasphemy charges after he “liked” an “inappropriate” photograph on Facebook of the Kaaba in Mecca, one of the holiest sites in Islam.
Senior police official Akhtar Ansari said Wednesday the arrest was made this week in Pakistan’s eastern Punjab province.
He says police have sent the boy to jail pending trial.
Ansari says police made the arrest after being alerted of the Facebook post by a Muslim, who said he found it insulting.
Under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, anyone accused of insulting Islam can be sentenced to death. However the laws are also sometimes used to settle personal scores and target minorities.
In 2015, Muslims beat a Christian couple to death and burned their bodies for allegedly desecrating the Quran.
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom has identified the uneven application of blasphemy laws in various countries, including Pakistan, as a serious problem.
“Blasphemy laws inappropriately position governments as arbiters of truth or religious rightness, as they empower officials to enforce particular religious views against individuals, minorities, and dissenters,” the commission wrote in 2014.
“In practice, they have proven to be ripe for abuse and easily manipulated with false accusations,” the body’s briefing paper said.