Aziz-ur-Rehman, a prominent Muslim cleric in Pakistan has been arrested and charged with sexually abusing a male student at a religious school.
Rehman was arrested after a video footage which allegedly showed him forcing himself on the student went viral on social media.
The cleric, who led anti-blasphemy rallies condemning French cartoons of Prophet Mohammed in Pakistan, is said to have denied the accusation of sexual abuse in a video statement, arguing that he was drugged before the filming of the alleged abuse.
He insisted that it was part of a plot to throw him out of the Jamia Manzoor-ul-Islamia seminary.
Police said it would be a ‘test case’ after detaining Rehman and his two sons who have been accused of trying to intimidate the alleged victim.
Inam Ghani, Inspector General of Punjab Police, said:
“We want our kids protected from these child molesters and to keep our society safe.”
The Islamic cleric, who is in his 60s and a member and former leader of prominent religious political party, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI), has worked as a custodian of the Lahore seminary for several years.
He has been a regular at anti-blasphemy rallies held in recent months, to denounce the publication of cartoons in France depicting the Prophet Muhammad.
The seminary said the cleric has been expelled from his position.
Also, Wafaq-ul-Madaris, the body that oversees the religious school system said it has stripped him of his title, mufti, which means a religious scholar.
According to the police, the victim, said to be in his 20s, has given several video and audio recordings to help police investigate the case.
The police added that he had gone into hiding because of death threats.
The police noted that the student told them the cleric had been abusing him for several years.
He started filming the abuse after he got sick of it, and sent the video clips of the abuse to the head of the Wafaq-ul-Madaris, the student claims.
“I was admitted into the madrassa in 2013 and had been attending it since. Mufti Aziz promised passing me in exams in exchange for keeping immoral relations with me,” the student said.
In another video posted on social media, the alleged victim said: “My attacker’s son’s have threatened to kill me for exposing him.”
The case has caused outrage on social media, with many calling for strict punishment for the cleric.