London: One of Pakistan’s most senior Islamic clerics has hailed the Christian girl accused blasphemy as a ‘daughter of the nation’, and has pledged to guarantee her safety if she is released from prison.
The heavyweight support for 14-year-old Rimsha Masih came from, Hafiz Mohammad Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi, the chairman of the All Pakistan Ulema Council, a grouping of Islamic clerics.
Ashrafi demanded all the organs of the Pakistani state come together to investigate the circumstances surrounding the arrest last month of a girl who it is claimed has Down``s syndrome, the Guardian reports.
He also slammed Hafiz Mohammed Khalid Chishti, the imam from the Mehrabadi slum, who was accused of tampering with evidence in order to ensure the girl`s conviction.
"Our heads are bowed with shame for what Chishti did,” the paper quoted Ashrafi, as saying.
According to the paper, he also said Chishti was merely the ‘front man for other individuals behind the scene’ who wanted to stoke local antagonism against the Christian minority in the area in order to force them to flee.
“I have known for the last three months that some people in this area wanted the Christian community to leave so they could build a madrasa there,” he said.
The remarks by Ashrafi, who has in the past been associated with the Defence of Pakistan Council, which includes members of banned militant groups, came after a judge`s decision to further delay a bail hearing for Rimsha until later in the week.