Vatican City: French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran has defended the young Pakistani girl accused of blasphemy, stressing that she "cannot read or write".
Tauran, who is in charge of interfaith dialogue in the Vatican, said "that before asserting a sacred text has been the object of scorn, it is worth checking the facts", reports The Express Tribune.
Rifta, aged 11, who reportedly suffers from Down Syndrome, was arrested last Thursday from a town near Islamabad after being accused of burning pages from a religious instruction book inscribed with verses from the Holy Quran.
But Tauran said Rifta "is a girl who cannot read or write and collects garbage to live on and picked up the fragments of the book which was in the middle of the rubbish".
"The more serious and tense the situation, the more necessary it is to have dialogue," added the cardinal.
He said that he believed it "impossible in the light of the facts that the girl had tried to express her scorn for the sacred book of Islam".
Rifta, whose arrest has prompted international outrage, had been due to appear in court on Saturday but police and her lawyer said Friday that the hearing had been put back to August 31.