Girl arrested for blasphemy; Zardari seeks report

Last Updated: Sunday, August 19, 2012 - 20:55

Islamabad: President Asif Ali Zardari on Sunday took "serious note" of the arrest of an 11-year-old Christian girl in the Pakistani capital on a charge of blasphemy and called for a report from the Interior Ministry.

The President directed the Interior Ministry to submit a report on the issue within 24 hours.

He directed the authorities to protect the life and property of everyone and said no one should be allowed to take the law into his hands.

Zardari called for "protecting everyone, particularly vulnerable sections of society, from any misuse of the blasphemy law", said presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar.

The President said blasphemy by anyone cannot be condoned but no one will be allowed to misuse the blasphemy law for settling personal scores, Babar said.

The Christian girl, Rimsha Masih, a resident of Islamabad, was arrested on Friday and sent to jail for allegedly burning pages of the Quran.

She was arrested after a man named Syed Muhammad Ummad filed a complaint against her.

Some reports said she was burning papers collected from a garbage dump for cooking when some people entered her house and accused the family of burning pages of the Quran.

This provoked people of the area, who gathered and beat Rimsha`s mother and sister and burned the houses of some Christians.

The Christian population of the area reportedly fled their homes.

Police sent Rimsha to prison and also arrested her mother and sister, reports said.

Rights activists have urged the government to reform or repeal the controversial blasphemy law, which they say is often misused to persecute minorities like Christians.

Shahbaz Bhatti, who was the Minister for Minority Affairs, was gunned down by extremists in Islamabad in March last year after he called for the repeal of the blasphemy law.

PTI



First Published: Sunday, August 19, 2012 - 20:55

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