News / Asia

    Pakistan Clerics Want Impartial Blasphemy Probe for Minor

    Local women walk past locked house of Christian girl in a suburb of Islamabad, Aug. 20, 2012.
    Local women walk past locked house of Christian girl in a suburb of Islamabad, Aug. 20, 2012.
    VOA News
    The lawyer for a Pakistani Christian girl accused of blasphemy says she is a minor and that her case will likely be heard in a juvenile court.
     
    The girl, Rimsha Masih, was taken into custody earlier this month after angry neighbors surrounded her house in Islamabad and accused her of burning pages inscribed with verses from the Quran. Some say she was burning papers from the garbage for cooking. Blasphemy is punishable by death in Pakistan.
     
    On Tuesday, her attorney, Tahir Naveed Chaudhry, said a medical board has determined that the girl is 14 years old, but mentally younger than that. He told reporters in Islamabad that as a minor, Masih can be tried in the juvenile justice system.
     
    Chaudhry said a bail hearing has been scheduled for Thursday.
     
    Also Tuesday, the head of Pakistan's leading group of Muslim clerics called for an impartial investigation into the girl's case.
     
    Maulana Tahir Ashrafi, the chairman of the All Pakistan Ulema Council, told reporters that "if she is innocent or suffering from Down's Syndrome, then the people of the administration who arrested her and those elements who [helped to promote phony charges]" should be punished.
     
    Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has taken "serious note" of the girl's detention and called for a report on her arrest.
     
    Human rights activists say the blasphemy law in Pakistan has been used to harass religious minorities and settle personal scores.  Amnesty International last week called on the government to urgently reform its blasphemy laws and protect Masih and her family against possible intimidation or attack.
     
    Last year, Pakistan's Minister of Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti, the only Christian member of the federal Cabinet, was gunned down in Islamabad. And Punjab province's governor, Salman Taseer, was killed by one of his bodyguards for opposing the controversial blasphemy law.
     
    Christians are the largest non-Muslim religious minority in Pakistan, making up about 5 percent of the population.
     
    The United States has called Masih's case "deeply disturbing" and urged Pakistan's government to protect not just its religious minority citizens, but also women and girls.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    August 28, 2012 12:39 PM
    This is not about whether she is minor or whatever, what the world is speaking out about is the repeal or abrogation of that obnoxious blasphemy law. It is anti-human and does not represent laws of the 21st century. It is barbaric and prehistoric and should be relegated to antiquity. It represents a god that has no power, no wisdom, no vision and no intelligence. If this so-called god of the muslims is not going to wake up, why should people defend it? Pray and let your god defend you not you defending paper and stones: unless that's what you worship. People should not be converted by force; that's conscription, kidnapping. The strongest Christians even in the scriptures are those converted by God Himself who convinces them. But a god without foresight conscripts converts, brainwashes and turns them to zombie to fight for him. We all are created by God who is all loving, all caring, all powerful and all knowing, and the day the muslims realize that God needs no help from man to do His things, they will find out that they have been in the wrong place.
    In Response

    by: Selvan from: India
    August 29, 2012 1:26 AM
    Right now, in the whole word, who kills more people in the name of religion? In Pakistan, if those people doing namaaz are killed in the name of religion and shariat, how will the minorities be spared?
    In Response

    by: Muslim from: India
    August 28, 2012 1:24 PM
    I don't really know what is the reality in this case. But what i see that mostly All non Muslim countries behavior is very much worse with the Muslims in comparison to the behavior with non muslims in Muslim countries. America, Nato, Israel they all do not need to show the world any evidence for not to arrest a muslim but even to kill the Muslims in a large no. If any american soldier, citizen commits any crime they say that he was mentally ill. but if any Muslim commits any crime personally then not only he is called a terrorist but................. Why ???????????

    by: Selvan from: India
    August 28, 2012 11:09 AM
    It is amazing that muslims do not give even fundamental rights to minorities living in muslim majority nations. At the same time they claim all rights in other nations where other faith in majority.

    by: Muhammad from: USA
    August 28, 2012 10:38 AM
    As usual these fringe extreme groups make the rest of us have to hide in shame!
    In Response

    by: John from: German
    August 29, 2012 11:53 PM
    The terrible thing for the Muslim is : they insist everything they do is absolutely right, while anything others do is completely wrong.
    In Response

    by: Srikanth from: Bangalore
    August 28, 2012 1:52 PM
    Exaclty said Mr Muhammed.In every religion such extreme inhuman groups exists, defaming and creating a sense of fear among other communities.

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