Muhammad Akram, 45, a self-styled magician from Faisalabad (Punjab), was arrested on blasphemy charges for burning a copy of the Qur‘an during a ritual ceremony. A resident of Faisalabad’s Mureedwala suburb, he has practiced necromancy and black magic for years, police sources report.
Muhammad Sarfraz, a merchant, hired Akram to conduct “black magic against a business rival”. The two men left together yesterday for the cemetery of Mir Ali, a village in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). The two began chanting magic words over a Qur‘an. At the end of the ritual, Akram burnt the copy of Islam’s sacred book. Sarfraz reacted angrily to the act, shouting at Akram, drawing people to the scene where they attacked Akram for his blasphemous action.
Senior Police Superintendant Rana Iqbal confirm that “divination and black magic are commonplace in rural areas”, especially among the illiterate who “hope to solve their problems through magic”.
The official added that “Muhammad Akram is one of a number of self-styled magicians who trick people in Mureedwala”, an area where people still live in “darkness”.
Police charged Muhammad Akram under Section 295 B of the Pakistan Penal Code, the so-called ‘black law’, which often leads to the extrajudicial murder of people accused of blasphemy before or during their sentence.
Lahore Sharia expert, Mullah Syed Hassan Tabish, condemned the profanation of the Qur‘an and those who practice magic, playing “with the lives of innocent people”. However, for him, the blasphemy law is legitimate because it punishes “acts contrary to Islam”. In fact, “Islamic laws are the best in the world to maintain a balanced and peaceful society”.