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.

You May Like

Analyst: Joint-Arab Military Force Poses Perilous Challenge

Although international forces are desperately needed to counter the threat of the Islamic State group, analysts say conflicting alliances could escalate fighting More

Asia’s Middle Class Changes Demand for Wheat Grain Exporters

Changes in tastes and diets are boon for wheat exporters such as Australia and the United States More

S. African Comedian Taking Over Popular TV Show

Mixed-race comedian Trevor Noah, who is loved for his edgy jibes about race and language, is taking the helm from Jon Stewart at The Daily Show in US More

This forum has been closed.
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.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More