Police say famed Pakistani singer who became an Islamic preacher faces blasphemy investigation



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KARACHI, Pakistan — Pakistani police opened a blasphemy investigation targeting a pop singer who became Islamic preacher over him allegedly insulting one of the wives of the Prophet Muhammad, a senior police officer said Wednesday.

The accusation is the latest in a wave of blasphemy-related cases in this Muslim-dominated country, which often see minorities targeted.

Officials opened the case Tuesday against Junaid Jamshed in Karachi, the capital of southern Sindh province, police officer Sheraz Nazeer said. He said police responded to a complaint by the Pakistani Sunni Tehreek party over a video released last weekend.

In the video, Jamshed appeared to insult one of the wives of the Prophet Muhammad while making a point about women's flaws. Jamshed swiftly apologized in a video statement Tuesday.

"I confess to my mistake," he said. "I did not do it intentionally."

But the Pakistan Sunni Tehreek party rejected his apology, saying he must be tried in court.

"We demand an immediate arrest of Junaid Jamshid, who is a cursed person," party spokesman Mobin Qadri said.

It was not immediately clear whether Jamshed was in Pakistan. He used to belong to a band called "Vital Signs" before giving up popular music in 2005 when he devoted his life to Islam.

Under Pakistan's harsh blasphemy laws, anyone accused of insulting Islam, the Prophet Muhammad or other religious Islamic figures can be sentenced to death, although no one has ever been executed under the law.

Just being accused of blasphemy can put someone at grave personal risk. Angry mobs have killed blasphemy suspects in the past. Defense lawyers have been targeted and judges sometimes hold trials inside jails out of safety concerns.

Last month, an axe-wielding police officer killed a member of the Shiite minority sect in police custody, claiming he had committed blasphemy by insulting companions of the Prophet Muhammad. A mob recently killed a Christian couple and burned their bodies in a brick kiln where the man and his wife worked, claiming they allegedly desecrated the Quran.


Associated Press writer Munir Ahmed in Islamabad contributed to this report.

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