A 15-year-old boy in Okara cut off his own hand believing he had committed blasphemy- only to be celebrated by his parents and neighbors for the act. One can only wonder to what extent we are obsessed with religiously motivated violence, that we are willing to hurt our own children.

In what can only be politely put as bullying, the imam of a mosque asked who among the crowd had stopped praying, connecting prayer to a love for the Holy Prophet (PBUH). The boy in question raised his hand by mistake after apparently mishearing the question. The imam, alongside the attendees around him, shamed the 15-year-old for committing blasphemy. How such an error amounts to blasphemy is up to anyone’s guess. Some reports even state that the boy was beaten by the cleric for his ‘sin’, so much so that the child had to punish himself to redeem himself in the eyes of the community. Using a fodder cutting machine, he sliced off the very hand he had raised at the mosque. Then, the child presented his appendage to the preacher on a plate. If people are ready to hurt themselves in the name of religion, imagine what they would be willing to do to others? We are in the midst of a complete breakdown of tolerance and humanity in our society. This is no worse than the terrors that Islamic State inflicts on its own and its enemies. Justifiably, Okara police have arrested the imam on terror charges.

That such a beautiful religion could be made so fearful and violent is blasphemy in itself. Children are meant to be encouraged and loved and there is enough evidence of love and forgiveness for the young in the Quran and Hadith. It is all too easy to make excuses citing illiteracy as the major culprit, but what needs to be addressed is the problem of child abuse and how our adult population is hell bent on it; whether it is young boys cutting their appendages or young girls being married at puberty. Even if the child and his family does not press charges, the state should go ahead with criminal proceedings, as harm was done on the Imam’s instigation. It is argued that the Imam misunderstood the boys intention just as the boy misunderstood his question. However, stupidity and rashness is no justification for instigating mob violence.