Disabled Child Faces Death Penalty for Blasphemy
A Pakistani girl with Down syndrome could face the death penalty after she was found with burned pages of Islamic text.
Rimsha, who is reportedly Christian has been arrested on charges of blasphemy. The girl was seized from her home last Thursday, after Muslim protestors rallied outside her house amidst rumors that the the girl was burning pages from the Koran.
“About 500-600 people had gathered outside her house in Islamabad, and they were very emotional, angry, and they might have harmed her if we had not quickly reacted,” police official Qasim Niazi defended the arrest. “Some Muslims from the area claim the girl had burned pages of the Koran, and we are investigating, and we have not reached any conclusion.”
With huge religious tension in the neighborhood, Christians were forced to flee for their safety, while Rimsha has been under police custody.
Niazi later explained that the girl was brought in with a shopping bag of burnt religious text, but none of which seem to be the Koran. He also added that the girl has been unable to speak since arriving at the police station, making it difficult to determine her age and mental state.
Paul Bhatti, Pakistan’s minister for National Harmony gave a conflicting statement to BBC. “From the reports I have seen, she was found carrying a waste bag which also had pages of the Koran,” he revealed.
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has ordered an investigation into the arrest. Defaming Islam is considered a serious offense and punishable by death according to Pakistani law.