Monday, August 20, 2012

Pakistan's President Calls For Report On Arrest of Illiterate Christian Girl For Blasphemy

BBC News, CNN and AFP report that in Pakistan last Thursday, police reluctantly arrested a Christian girl for desecrating pages of the Qur'an and took her parents into protective custody after 150 demonstrators demanded action and threatened to burn down Christian homes. More than 600 people temporarily fled the Christian neighborhood in the Mehrabad slum near Islamabad in response to the  mob threats. The girl, identified as Rimsha, was remanded into 14-days custody. Police say the girl is in her teens, but a spokesman for the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance says she is 11 to 12 years old and has Down's syndrome.  Pakistan's Minister for National Harmony said that the girl probably did not purposefully desecrate the holy book. Police say the girl, who is illiterate and has never attended school, was gathering paper as fuel for cooking and unknown to her some of the papers she burned were pages of the Qur'an. Pakistan's blasphemy laws provide up to life in prison for desecrating the Qur'an. Pakistan's president Asif Ali Zardari called for the interior ministry to submit an urgent report on the incident, and said that vulnerable parts of society must be protected from misuse of the blasphemy laws. A presidential spokesman said that no one will be allowed to misuse blasphemy laws to settle personal scores.

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