Islamabad: The blasphemy law has become a death warrant at the hands of mob vigilantism, a Pakistani daily said after an 11-year-old girl afflicted with Down syndrome was accused of blasphemy and sent to jail.
In an editorial "Another mad act", Daily Times Monday cited news reports as saying that Rifta Masih, 11, has been sent to jail for committing blasphemy.
"She was caught tearing and dumping a few pages of Quranic text while playing outside her home in Islamabad. The act enraged Muslims in the neighbourhood who immediately tried to intimidate and pressurise the police to arrest the girl and her mother.
"What this mob did not take into account is that the girl is afflicted with Down syndrome and that without having the ability to think, how could she know that she was soiling something holy and revered?" it asked.
The daily said that this is not the only case of so-called blasphemy followed blindly and taken up as a matter of life and death.
"Even those who dared speak against the abuse of this law had to pay with their lives like the late governor Punjab Salmaan Taseer and federal minister of minorities Shahbaz Bhatti."
Noting that condemnation of the arrest of Rifta Masih has poured in from all quarters, the editorial said: "This case is peculiar for the insanity of those who could not understand the difficulty of a mentally challenged person, that too a minor."
"This case shows the depth of the abyss into which people have fallen in Pakistan," it added.
Calling for a thorough revision and redefinition of the blasphemy law, the daily said that the blasphemy law is made a tool in the hands of people who use it for their personal interests as and when they like.
"The most shocking part of the Rifta Masih case has been the role of the police who gave in to the pressure of a mob. This is where the rub lies. The blasphemy law has become a death warrant at the hands of mob vigilantism. Safeguards against false and irrational accusation of blasphemy are therefore the urgent need of the hour," it added.