Islamabad: A Christian girl was arrested after outraged neighbours gathered around the girl’s house stating that she had violated blasphemy laws of the country. The Pakistani authorities are now investigating whether the girl violated the blasphemy laws.
The girl was arrested after angry neighbors assembled outside the girl’s house when they heard that he had allegedly burnt pages of the Quran.
A Pakistani police officer, Zabi Ullah said the police took the girl to the police station, and that she's been held for 14 days while authorities investigate.
"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," he said.
"Some Muslims from the area claim the girl had burned pages of the Quran, and we are investigating, and we have not reached any conclusion," he said.
Another police official, Qasim Niazi, said when the girl was brought to the police station she had a shopping bag that contained various religious and Arabic-language papers that had been partly burned but no Quran.
Another police officer said the matter would likely be dropped once the investigation is completed and the atmosphere is defused, saying there was "nothing much to the case." He did not want to be identified due to the sensitivity of the case.
There were varying reports on the girl's age and whether she was mentally handicapped. Ullah said she was 16 while other officials have said she was either 12 or 11. Niazi said that when the girl was brought to the police station she was scared and unable to speak normally, but he did not know whether she was mentally handicapped.
In Pakistan, anyone found guilty of insulting Islam's Prophet Muhammad, or holy book, the Quran, can be sentenced to death.
Attempts to revoke or alter the blasphemy laws have been met with violent opposition. Liberal politician Salman Taseer was shot and killed by one of his own guards in January 2011, and in March 2011, militants gunned down Shahbaz Bhatti, the only Christian minister in Pakistan's Cabinet.
A spokesperson for Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, Farhatullah Babar, said the President has taken "serious note" of reports of the girl's arrest and has asked the Interior Ministry to look into the case.
(With Agency Inputs)
First Published: Monday, August 20, 2012, 16:44