Pakistani Girl, 11, Arrested for 'Blasphemy'

Dan Wooding | ASSIST News Service | Monday, August 20, 2012

Pakistani Girl, 11, Arrested for 'Blasphemy'

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN (ANS) -- Just as it seemed that Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy law couldn’t sink any lower, we have received news that an 11-year-old Pakistani Christian girl with Down syndrome was arrested and charged with blasphemy on Friday, August 17, 2012.

The girl is a resident of Umara Jaffar in sector G-12 of Islamabad, capital of Pakistan.

Wilson Chowdhry, chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, said: “Allegedly, a Quran was found with some of its pages burned by Muslims in a Christian area of Islamabad. In previous cases, the burning has nearly always shown to have been done by Muslims, or by mentally unstable people -- and worse, they have had an 11-year-old Christian girl with Down syndrome called Rimsha Masih arrested and charged with the crime.

“Muslim extremists are threatening to burn down every Christian house in the community. Several thousand Christians have fled the suburb and are in hiding, along with the family of the victim.”

Chowdhry went on to say: “At the last account, Christian human rights workers have persuaded local Mullahs not to authorize the threatened attacks after Friday prayers. Some went to the local police station and report the situation on the ground is very bad. It is quite evident that the police they talked to have already assumed her guilt. They refused to allow the workers to see the First Information Report (FIR), placed by a Muslim called Alsyed Muhammad Ummad.

“The police were aggressive and hostile, and appear to have immediately called Muslim youths to the police station to harass the Christian workers. The police said, 'She has burned our holy book and you are here to protect her.'

“It is quite clear that the police are hostile to the accused, have presumed her guilt and have no regard for her status as a minor or as one with Down syndrome. Please pray for her and her family.

“The Christian rights workers are planning to apply for bail for her immediately after the Muslim Eid celebrations currently ongoing.”

According to Dr. Peter Bhatti, chairman of International Christian Voice, some 1,500 people blocked the roads around the village where the girl lived and burned tires and wanted to attack the village. The attack was planned to take place after Friday prayers.

Dr. Bhatti has been speaking to Islamic clerics separately and they have agreed so far not to attack.

The Times of India is reporting that the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA) is providing assistance to people who have left their homes.

National harmony minister Paul Bhatti, who is also chairman of the APMA, has contacted Islamic clerics and police to bring the situation under control.

“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,” said the story.

Federal minister Paul Bhatti's brother 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.

Also, Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian mother of five, has been sentenced to death for alleged blasphemy and is appealing the sentence.

Dan Wooding, 71, who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, is an award-winning British journalist now living in Southern California with his wife, Norma, to whom he has been married for 49 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. He is the founder and international director of ASSIST (Aid to Special Saints in Strategic Times) and the ASSIST News Service (ANS) and he hosts the weekly “Front Page Radio” show on the KWVE Radio Network in Southern California, which is also carried throughout the United States and around the world.

Publication date: August 20, 2012

Pakistani Girl, 11, Arrested for 'Blasphemy'