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Pakistan 'blasphemy school' headteacher remanded

Lahore, Nov 3, 2012 (AFP) 14:46 IST
A Pakistani court today refused bail to the headteacher of a school caught in a blasphemy row over a piece of homework allegedly containing derogatory references to Prophet Mohammed.

Asim Farooqi, 77, was remanded in custody for 14 days on charges of blasphemy -- which can attract the death penalty -- despite arguing he had no direct part in the case.

One of his teachers, 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.

Blasphemy is an extremely sensitive issue in Pakistan, where 97 per cent of the population are Muslims, and allegations of insulting Islam can prompt violent outbursts of public anger, even when unproven.

"The bail petition is dismissed," Judge Anjum Raza announced after hearing arguments from Farooqi's lawyer.

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