There is a truly horrific story out of Pakistan that reveals the sheer insanity that can be instilled in an entire community through religious orthodoxy. News reports indicate that Mohammad Anwar, 15, cut off his own hand after being told that he had committed blasphemy by failing to pray enough. His act was reportedly celebrated by the community as a wonderful testament to his Islamic faith.
This horror began, according to a local police chief, when an imam told a gathering at a village mosque that those who love Mohammad always say their prayers, then asked who among the crowd had stopped praying. Anwar apparently raised his hand by mistake after mishearing the question. The crowd then turned on him and denounced him of blasphemy. Anwar went home and cut off the offending hand to prove that he is a faithful Muslim. He then brought his hand to the imam on a plate to the praise of his parents and the community.
Various news reports have published this story, which was supposedly based on the account of the local police. Even with the past accounts of grotesque abuses under Sharia law, these stories continue to mystify me and I am left hoping that the story is apocryphal.
The imam bore the greatest responsibility in singling out the boy and triggering the public condemnations as a blasphemer. His name is Shabbir Ahmed and he has been reportedly arrested after the story.