Addicts Chained and Beaten at Islamic Rehab

By Will Godfrey 12/13/11

Pakistani police raid a seminary where young addicts were treated "like animals."

Beatings were common Thinkstock

Young drug addicts were chained in filthy conditions at a religious rehab in Karachi, Pakistan that was raided by police last night. About 60 young men were at the Islamic seminary. They were sent there by their parents, who paid around $150 to put their addicted kids through a program of Islamic instruction and worship. Anyone caught dealing drugs or trying to escape was held in chains in the basement, and could also be beaten with sticks—up to 200 lashes. "They were kept there like animals," says police officer Akram Naeem. Young children also visited the seminary for religious instruction, and they too were chained up if they disobeyed their teachers. One seminary administrator was arrested. But several of the addicts' parents went to the police station to protest about the raid: "I brought my grown up son here because he is a drug addict and he was making my life miserable. I don't want to take him back," said one. With little state help available for Pakistan's addicts, many unregulated seminaries fill the gap.

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Will Godfrey is the former editor-in-chief of TheFix. He was also the founding editor-in-chief of, and previously co-founded a magazine for prisoners in London. His work has appeared in Salon, Pacific Standard, AlterNet and The Nation among others. He is currently the Executive Director at FILTER. You can find Will on Linkedin and Twitter.