Blasphemy allegations: Lahore school teacher in hiding

Published: November 2, 2012
A policeman stands next to wreckage of a burnt out a car at a school that was set fire by an angry mob, following a protest alleging the school gave a test that insulted the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh), in Lahore on November 2, 2012. PHOTO: AFP

A policeman stands next to wreckage of a burnt out a car at a school that was set fire by an angry mob, following a protest alleging the school gave a test that insulted the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh), in Lahore on November 2, 2012. PHOTO: AFP

LAHORE: A Pakistani teacher at the centre of a blasphemy row was in hiding Friday as her school management denied all responsibility for the “dirty act” and called for her to be punished.

Arfa Iftikhar was forced into hiding after a furious mob stormed Farooqi Girls’ High School in the eastern city of Lahore over a piece of homework she set that allegedly contained derogatory references to prophet Mohammad (pbuh).

Blasphemy is an extremely sensitive issue in Pakistan, where 97 percent of the population are Muslims, and allegations of insulting Islam or the prophet Mohammed (pbuh) can prompt violent outbursts of public anger, even when unproven.

The school management took out front page adverts in two leading newspapers on Friday to deny it had any knowledge of the supposed insults to the prophet, saying Iftikhar distributed the work just 10 minutes before the school closed for the Eidul Azha holiday.

“Our school management and the owners have no link whatsoever with this dirty act,” the advertisement in Urdu said.

“We appeal to the government and the police to take legal action against this teacher and investigate her real motive”.

The school’s headmaster Asim Farooqi has been remanded in custody for 14 days on charges of blasphemy, which can attract the death penalty, police officer Azam Manhais told AFP, while a search was under way for Iftikhar.

Farooqi’s lawyer Jawad Ashraf said they would apply for bail on Saturday and accused police of bowing to the mob over the headmaster’s arrest.

“It seems his arrest was made on public pressure but we see that he has no role in this entire case except some negligence as principal of this school,” he said.

Activists say Pakistan’s harsh blasphemy laws are often abused to settle personal scores, and Ashraf said the possibility of a conspiracy against the school, one of the most successful in Lahore, could not be ruled out.

Farooqi’s son Sameer Asim Farooqi, one of the school’s administrators, said the way the case had panned out was “strange”.

“It seems that an organised gang attacked our school. The attackers were mostly teenagers and they had batons in their hands, but some of them were also armed (with firearms),” he said.

“We also heard there were announcements in the nearby mosques about the incident to inflame the public.”

Sameer Farooqi said Iftikhar had been sacked, despite telling the principal she had copied out the offending passage by mistake.

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Reader Comments (46)

  • Babloo
    Nov 2, 2012 - 5:39PM

    Wah Pakistan !


  • TruthNFacts
    Nov 2, 2012 - 5:50PM

    Is there any limit to insanity? In which direction, Pakistan is moving forward? Do we need any external enemy to destroy the remaining Pakistan? Unfortunately, it seems as Pakistan is losing battle and hopes against the prevalent and fast rising radicalisation.


  • Raza Khan
    Nov 2, 2012 - 5:52PM

    These kind of acts reflect a very ugly face of the nation!


  • Let Sanity Prevail
    Nov 2, 2012 - 6:01PM

    There is no future for education if unauthorized madressahs rule the roost. They have their own vested interests with no obligation of providing quality education to produce globally competent students. Parties such as JUI-F, JI, PML-N, etc who are dependent on extremist votes [and are basically Zia-ul-Haq’s ideological children] are the biggest hurdles in the way of a progressive moderate Pakistan.
    Since elections are near please choose wisely because your vote can decide if Pakistan’s future is pro-Jinnah or pro-Taliban.

    Live and let live!


  • Nitin Gandhi
    Nov 2, 2012 - 6:01PM

    Days are not far whole nation would be hiding and the Talibans will roam on the street. Pakistan is running very fast towards talibans. super fast


  • Khurram
    Nov 2, 2012 - 6:07PM

    The Urdu Media is completely silent on this issue unfortunately and how long we will drag such issue under the rugs and will continue our policy of “Sab Acha Hai” ?. We Pakistanis always whine about minority rights in America and in Europe and here we are putting people in jails without even listening to them and we must kept in mind that many Minority members are in jails under this rule and even Muslims are facing the blunt and the worst part is that anyone can implicate anyone without even producing solid evidence and personal enmities are now settled under the the Zia’s Blasphemy law.


  • zeeshan asad
    Nov 2, 2012 - 6:09PM

    Religion of peace.


  • Sheru
    Nov 2, 2012 - 6:12PM

    Like, seriously? Where are we heading? No seriously, where?!


  • G. Din
    Nov 2, 2012 - 6:12PM

    This insane behaviour must cease!


  • Imran
    Nov 2, 2012 - 6:13PM

    Sooner or later this menace will engulf everyone of us. People will be scared of handling anything related to the religion. It will become safer to teach, and study in schools which do not have any religious studies. It will be safer not to keep any religious books or texts at home; not print/read anything which has religious references. The consequences otherwise will be tremendous; one small accident and you, your loved ones, and people around you will be running for life. And our religion will transform into a religion of fear, bigotry, and persecution. Already, people from the outside see us as such.


  • Feedom Seeker
    Nov 2, 2012 - 6:27PM

    One more victim of Mullahs.


  • saleem
    Nov 2, 2012 - 6:32PM

    all this blasphemy is obviously disgusting


  • Aryabhat
    Nov 2, 2012 - 6:35PM

    Glorious act of bravery that would further shine Pakistan’s soft image, improve foreign investment, bring in tourists, ease Visa to Pakistanis in Europe and USA, improve Electricity and Gas supplies, increase employment………


  • Nayla
    Nov 2, 2012 - 6:37PM

    What a barbaric society. Such a shame, another life ruined because of stupid blasphemy. The teacher WILL be killed eventually by pius Muslim Vigilantes, even if she’s cleared by the courts . Shame on the school for throwing her under the bus. I’m SO glad I don’t live in Pakistan. Why do so many Muslims have such a propensity to be “insulted”, and then react violently? Is it something in Islam? Is it connected to the culture of the country? Is it related to the “honor culture”? It’s crazy to think making a mistake in writing something can get you killed.


  • Nov 2, 2012 - 6:37PM
  • waqas
    Nov 2, 2012 - 6:40PM

    All i remember is Mr Farooqi asking his students to recite Darood Pak all the time before exams and every difficult situation..
    MULAS here have taken advantage of this Blasphemy Law.
    Why cant a Blasphemy case registered against people who torched office that contained 4 Quran Pak ?
    I have seen that piece of paper as well that does not contain any signature or authority from school administration


  • Uza Syed
    Nov 2, 2012 - 6:43PM

    Very sad and very troubling indeed, we have been ignoring or tolerating and even actively creating and grooming all this ‘human dynamite’ all these years —- and now seem bewildered when it final caught fire and is exploding all around us and nothing, no one is safe, not for very long, it seems. We created this frenzy, this psyhic pathology in the name of ‘Belief & Religion & its protection’ and now they are turning the whole country into a mass lunacy. Shame on all those ‘veiled talibans’ who go by such trades as ‘journalists’, ‘politicians’, ‘judges and the jurists’ and educanists —- now it’s time for them all to go out and welcome the ‘chickens’ which have arrived and wish to roost.


  • ashok
    Nov 2, 2012 - 6:50PM


    I will add,”WHA WAH PACKISTAN”


  • S A Bukhara
    Nov 2, 2012 - 6:53PM

    Islamo-fascism. Plain and simple. We should be ashamed for what we have become, and where we are headed.


  • Mahmood
    Nov 2, 2012 - 6:58PM

    These people claiming to protect the honor of the Prophet (PBUH) by means of arson, vigilantism and outright thuggery seriously need to take a long hard look at themselves in the mirror. Little do they realize that their acts are what cause greater damage to the Prophet’s image.


  • Syed
    Nov 2, 2012 - 7:26PM

    I want to know what exactly did she do? I want to know the facts please


  • jism
    Nov 2, 2012 - 7:27PM

    and India intends to give 5000 visas to Pakistanis for the upcoming cricket match, now, tell me, are our apprehensions unfounded and baseless, when these actions are perpetrated by the majority of the population in Pakistan, we are right in every manner to oppose or to object any kind of visa agreement, when Pakistanis themselves don’t want to see these things happen in their homeland, its justifiable if the Indians protest against the visa agreement.

    we want people to visit our country, but not people with radical thoughts.


  • shahid
    Nov 2, 2012 - 7:38PM

    Police should investigate what role the local mosque played?, who incited the mob? who were people armed with Guns?. Unfortunately every successive pakistan government has beeen so weak they have never taken action to prevent such thing. If the police is ordered to shoot at sight any one destroying public property for what ever reason only then this problem can be solved.


  • Nope
    Nov 2, 2012 - 7:52PM

    Perfect example of How over addiction to religion destroys the nation and community !!! This law can only exist in Islamic countries.


  • Raj - USA
    Nov 2, 2012 - 7:58PM

    The way it is going, some politicians will soon discover the virtues of Blasphemy Law to eliminate or send their political opponents into hiding during the upcoming election.


  • abdul
    Nov 2, 2012 - 8:02PM

    Poor teacher nobody is standing for her despite she acknowledged it was a printing mistake. Par nai we have to kill her


  • 3rdRockFromTheSun
    Nov 2, 2012 - 8:13PM

    And the land of the pure continues it’s rush at breakneck speed to the 15th century.
    What boggles the mind is that there are pictures of many police personnel standing around as the mob gathered, and yet they could not / would not take action or call reinforcements once it became clear that the mob was getting out of control!
    Is that all it takes to rile your folks up? Forget having a strong offesnive force, India should just keep sending drones and drop ‘blasphemous’ material on Pak territory, and just wait for you folks to impolde the country yourselves.


  • A. Khan
    Nov 2, 2012 - 8:48PM


    With four eye witnesses, who see the actual act, being the legal requirement, I think you have an open license.


  • Nov 2, 2012 - 8:50PM

    Actually by these acts Mullas are creating environments where Public will start demanding New law. And then they will blame the Liberals but never having the intellect to understand their role of Portraying Islam as horrible faith.


  • Raja Islam
    Nov 2, 2012 - 9:05PM

    What was the offensive material that has enraged everyone?Recommend

  • A. Khan
    Nov 2, 2012 - 9:12PM

    @Umayr Masud:

    Very good point. The Wahabi sect does not believe in having marked graves for anyone including the Prophet and I am inclined to agree with them. Because this can result in people committing shirk by praying to the Prophet instead of to Allah swt.

    Also, there is an extremely fine line between protesting against blasphemy and shirk. For example, in Judaism blasphemy can only committed against God, no mention of any prophet. So one should be extremely careful not to cross the line by linking prophet with god, otherwise Muslims will be the same as Christians. Our illiterate people and maulvis cannot comprehend this.


  • saleem
    Nov 2, 2012 - 9:12PM

    Unless we clean up the country of madrassas, shameful laws and religious extremists, this country is going to the dogs


  • Moshin
    Nov 2, 2012 - 9:26PM

    @Nitin Gandhi:
    indians are loser*s


  • neutral
    Nov 2, 2012 - 9:27PM

    how u can say that dia is a printing mistake .I heard that principle is a Ahmadi thats why he plan


  • Moshin
    Nov 2, 2012 - 9:32PM

    indians you should worry about india not PAKISTAN


  • Islamabadi
    Nov 2, 2012 - 9:52PM

    This is fr Nayla who proudly comes on a Pakistani site and explains she is glad she doesn’t live in Pakistan. My question to you is what are you doing on a Pakistani site then? Recommend

  • Aries
    Nov 2, 2012 - 10:02PM

    Indians, please remember the 28 th anniversary of Mrs. Gandhi’s assassination 28 years ago on october 31. Thereafter thousands of sikhs were massacred with the Delhi police looking the other way. Criminals were released from jail armed with lists of Sikhs from electoral rolls, ration cards, utility bills etc. please do not forget you are also capable of extreme violence and this is not restricted to Pakistan alone. Those responsible for teaching the sikhs a lesson are still active in the Government of india. Nobody has ever veen punished. Don’t forget Gujarat 2002 also.


  • gp65
    Nov 2, 2012 - 10:20PM

    @Aries: “However, the team cannot take part in the championship as its members will not be issued visas after the government’s decision.

    Last time I checked the Prime Minister of India is a Sikh, also the COAS and also the Head of planning commission.
    YEs the 1984 riots were shameful but to say there is ongoing discrimination against Sikhs in India is just plain and simple lies.


  • A. Khan
    Nov 2, 2012 - 11:08PM


    Given that under Islamic laws you need 4 eye witnesses to the act, you are very safe from facing any prosecution.


  • observer
    Nov 2, 2012 - 11:09PM


    Indians, please remember the 28 th anniversary of Mrs. Gandhi’s assassination 28 years ago on october 31.

    Excellent memory.
    And I expect you also remember that Mrs Gandhi refused to remove her Sikh bodyguards simply because they were Sikhs.

    And hope you also know who the current PM of India is and also the Army Chief.


  • saif
    Nov 3, 2012 - 12:17AM

    Ladies and gentlemen you cann’t say waah waah Pakistan!
    of course some people are stupid but not all. ”Activists say Pakistan’s harsh blasphemy laws are often abused to settle personal scores” very sad! But who are these activists?


  • Mateen
    Nov 3, 2012 - 2:13AM

    This Blasphemy Law of Pakistan should be struck down. It is trurning out be one of the main causes for all the turmoil in the country.


  • Kamran Akmal
    Nov 3, 2012 - 2:37AM

    We need to nail down the thought process which triggers Hatred, violence and killing. Blasphemors do no damage to Muhammad’s(P.B.U.H) station he is Divine and has greatest of Station.

    God Forbid, but what this ummah is upto in His name and religion, He would be ashamed

    No wonder why the ummah is cursed.


  • Ghulam Mustafa
    Nov 3, 2012 - 5:04AM

    It is not just Pakistan, in Islam whoever insults Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) must be removed from planet earth by every single Muslim coming from all over the world. I wonder how every other case of blasphemy now is taken up by AFP/The Express Tribune to sensationalize the matter or ill-motively picture as wrong against Muslims of Pakistan.


  • hasnanoor
    Nov 4, 2012 - 11:49AM

    do u have any proov about dis incidnt??????????????i m a farooqian n i want ansr so plz give me proov…………………………………………………………………….


  • ifaaela
    Nov 4, 2012 - 9:14PM

    @Ghulam Mustafa: very well said


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