A young Pakistani boy who chopped his own hand off to atone after being wrongly accused of blasphemy says he has no regrets. In fact, the 15-year-old says he is proud of his act of expiation, which has been celebrated throughout his village in Punjab.
The boy, whose name has not been revealed, told the BBC in a filmed interview about the incident that led him to self-mutilate with the large blade of a grass trimmer.
Watch the interview with the boy in the video above.
He said he was celebrating the birth of the Prophet Muhammad at a crowded mosque on Jan. 11 when the worship leader gave a simple instruction.
"The imam asked those of us gathered in the mosque, 'Whoever doesn't believe in the teachings of the Holy Prophet, raise your hand.' So I did, but by mistake," explained the boy. "Then I realized I was being accused of blasphemy, so I returned home, chopped off my hand, put it on a tray, and showed it to the imam."
This demonstration of extreme devotion drew admirers from surrounding villages to pay their respects.
"Many heard that a boy had chopped off his hand for our beloved Prophet," one man told the BBC. "I felt proud and happy."
The cleric reportedly fled the village but was quickly arrested and charged under anti-terrorism laws. He denies inciting violence.
"Such illiterate imams of mosques should not be allowed to deliver speeches. His arrest is under the National Action Plan that hate speeches inciting violence are no longer allowed in this country," the police chief said.
Blasphemy against any recognized religion can be punishable by life imprisonment or death in Pakistan. It is a highly controversial topic in the country, where lynch mobs that have attacked accused blasphemers are praised by some extremists, but have drawn fierce criticism from others. The former governor of Punjab was assassinated in 2011 by his own bodyguard, who shot him 27 times, for an apparent act of blasphemy.
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