START A PETITION 25,136,189 members: the world's largest community for good
START A PETITION
x
908,600 people care about Women's Rights

Christian Girl With Down Syndrome Charged With Blasphemy in Pakistan

Christian Girl With Down Syndrome Charged With Blasphemy in Pakistan

An 11-year-old Christian girl who reportedly has Down syndrome and/or learning disabilities has been arrested for blasphemy in Pakistan. Identified only as Rimsha in Agence France-Presse, the girl was arrested after being found holding burnt pages of the Koran and Islamic texts in public on Thursday and was taken to a police station in Islamabad where she has been since detained.

Under Pakistan’s blasphemy law, a person can be jailed for life for desecrating the Koran.

Dr Paul Bhatti, Pakistan’s minister for National Harmony, has told the BBC that Rimsha’s parents have been taken into protective custody and that 600 people have fled from their Christian neighborhood in Mehrabad, a section of Islamabad. Bhatti also said that, due to the girl’s “mental disorder,” it “unlikely she purposefully desecrated the Koran” and that

“From the reports I have seen, she was found carrying a waste bag which also had pages of the Koran. This infuriated some local people and a large crowd gathered to demand action against her. The police were initially reluctant to arrest her, but they came under a lot of pressure from a very large crowd, who were threatening to burn down Christian homes.”

AFP says that “angry Muslim rallies” have been held to demand that Rimsha be punished. She appeared before a court on Thursday and is to be held for fourteen more days and then be in court again at the end of the month.

Rights groups including the Women’s Action Forum (WAF) are condemning Rimsha’s arrest. Demanding her immediate release, WAF spokeswoman Tahira Abdullah described outrage “at the total inhumanity of the men who lodged the First Information Report (FIR) in the police.” She also said that police should have addressed the situation under the Juvenile Justice System rather than as “the serious allegation of blasphemy,” adding that police have allowed neither lawyers nor civil society representatives to visit Rimsha while she is in custody.

Where is the proof that Rimsha herself set the texts on fire? Might not someone, aware of the charges of blasphemy and of her disability, have given her them to carry?

In view of her age and certainly her disability, the arrest, detention and charges against Rimsha are simply horrendous and proof that Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy law must be repealed — certainly debate about it must be reopened — in the name of human rights and simple justice.

Take Action: Sign the petition against this girl’s prosecution!

 

Related Care2 Coverage

Tunisia Moves to Outlaw Blasphemy

Musharraf Says Pakistani Blasphemy Law Cannot Be Changed

Down Syndrome Girl Is Swimsuit Model: Progress… Or Not?

Read more: , , , , , ,

Photo by Roel Wijnants

have you shared this story yet?

some of the best people we know are doing it

250 comments

+ add your own
3:04PM PST on Jan 4, 2013

cont'd

I have also considered the time period and context of the scriptures that I live by. When the Jews invented the alphabet from which ours arrived, the only other writing styles were cuneiform and hieroglyphics. I have also considered that out math, astronomy, legal and judicial systems, art, music, social mores, architecture, textile production, agriculture, and the list goes well over 100 items, either go back to ancient sumeria and/or the early Jews (history is one of my degreed areas).

"Trounced on by science..." To the best of my knowledge, "do unto others as you would have them do unto you..." has never been trounced on by science. Neither has washing your hands between seeing patients (the egyptians did not wash their hands when seeing the sick, the Jews did). And that list, too, goes on and on and on. Circumcision pretty much eliminated cervical cancer, science has not trounce on that. Avoiding drunkeness has not been trounced on by science. The earth being round and not flat has not been trounced on by science. Pork being unhealthy has not been trounced on by science.

Again, take your own advice about walking in someone else's shoes before you go assuming that they, or me in this case, has not.

3:02PM PST on Jan 4, 2013

Mr. Malbosa,

you commented... "Then try examining your beliefs from the angle of there not being any god, and that your 'holy scripture' was made up thousands of years ago by some ignorant goat herders and has been thoroughly trounced time and time again by science."

It's so sad that you assumed that I have not done as you requested. I was a confirmed atheist from the time I was 45 years old up until I was 47. I walked in those shoes and did indeed learn a lot.

For one, I leaned that I live the way I do because that is who I am, and not because of some mandate written 3,500 years ago. I also learned that, even as an atheist, my concepts of right and wrong were closer to scripture than the concepts of right and wrong of many of the so-called christians that I worked with.

I would like to request that you do what you have requested, I have, i.e., walk in the shoes of those who disagree with you. I have tried being an atheist for 2 years, I challenge you to walk in the shoes of either Jews or Christians before you continue to ask that of others.

I have also considered the time period and context of the scriptures that I live by. When the Jews invented the alphabet from which ours arrived, the only other writing styles were cuneiform and hieroglyphics. I have also considered that out math, astronomy, legal and judicial systems, art, music, social mores, architecture, textile production, agriculture, and the list goes well over 100 items, either go back to

9:00PM PDT on Sep 3, 2012

Another update, reported by The Guardian online. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/sep/03/christian-girl-senior-pakistani-cleric-blasphemy, retrieved a couple of minutes ago.)

The witness who saw he Iman, Chishti, plant the evidence was his deputy, to whom Chishti said "This is the evidence against them and this is how we can get them out from this area", referring to the fact he, along with others, wanted the local Christian community to leave so they could build a madrasa on the site.

Two other witnesses also saw Chishti planting the pages and they have come forward.

On a happier note, Ashrafi, one of Pakistan's most senior Islamic clerics, vowed that he would look after the girl and guarantee her safety when she is released from prison. He and other senior clerics have demanded a full investigation, and he said "Our heads are bowed with shame for what Chishti did."

Full marks to Ashrafi for his comments, but I question his motivation to a certain extent. He said that he had been moved to speak out after reading reports that Rimsha had Down's syndrome, as it's a condition which affects his 15-year-old son. To my mind, he should have done the same earlier simply because she is a child, let alone a disabled, vulnerable one.

4:39AM PDT on Sep 2, 2012

An update on this story from the BBC. "Pakistani police have arrested an imam accused of planting burnt pages of the Koran in the bag of a Christian girl accused of blasphemy, officials say." (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-19454739, retrieved 12.30 today)

The cleric who tried to frame little Rimsha is called Khalid Chishti, and he was seen putting the pages in the bag himself, according to local media.

Apparently, in an earlier report, a cleric demanded that the police handover the girl so that she could be burnt alive. No name was mentioned, but I wonder if it's the same one.

3:30AM PDT on Aug 29, 2012

cont'd

... or who needed help could come and study (children weren't allowed in rooms unless a teacher was present so I ate sandwiches at my desk); I used to take homemade soups, hot drinks and sandwiches into the city centre to feed the homeless at weekends, and gave the same to my partner to distribute on her way to work during the week; when any of the homeless found housing, I'd give them a starter pack based on their needs, such as pans, kettle, duvet, basic foods, baby things or clothes. I think, on the whole, I'm not a bad person, I know right from wrong and try to do right yet I am an atheist.

I would much rather trust someone who does right because they choose to than someone who does it through the fear of going to Hell if they don't.

Sorry if I've waffled, I'm as high as a kite on pain killers this morning.

3:25AM PDT on Aug 29, 2012

James H, thanks for the nice comments. :-)

You said, though:

"I really agree that religion is about ... not stealing from someone ... and not having an affair with your friend’s girlfriend/boyfriend ... not taking paper clips home from the office ... not tail-gating someone in traffic ... not hitting your wife"

The implication there is that religion instills this morality in people and, therefore, without religion people do wrong. I have not done any of the things you mention (apart from when I was 2 years old and my mum tells me I stole a halfpenny sweet from a shop, mea culpa), yet I am an atheist.

I try to follow the Golden Rule: before becoming too ill I used to do volunteer work with the elderly; despite living below the poverty line I have standing orders paid every month to 2 local hospices (including one run by RC nuns because they accept any race, religion, colour, gender or sexuality with welcoming arms and treat all patients really well); I have welcomed into my home acquaintances in need (a couple lost their homes through financial difficulties, one had split from his girlfriend and two were going through mental health crises), another is moving in over the next month to try and find a job in this area; when I was a teacher, I was known as the one to approach if you had a problem or needed advice, and I had an open-house in my classroom every lunchtime so that any child who did not have any quiet at home to do homework or who needed help could co

9:06AM PDT on Aug 28, 2012

The large crowd who had gathered to demand action against the poor child is sick! Sick to the core!

4:26PM PDT on Aug 25, 2012

@ James H

"Pam W., thank you for your comment, it really got me to thinking and I’ve really enjoyed sharing these thoughts of mine with you; they made me examine my beliefs from another angle"

Then try examining your beliefs from the angle of there not being any god, and that your 'holy scripture' was made up thousands of years ago by some ignorant goat herders and has been thoroughly trounced time and time again by science.

1:35PM PDT on Aug 25, 2012

The girl is probably safer in custody right now, fair or not. And shouldn't that be the main concern anyway?

6:19PM PDT on Aug 23, 2012

Kudos to you, Kristina.

You seem to have broken a Care2Causes taboo and set a precedent in posting a story about Muslims victimizing someone not Muslim -- something that happens many times a day throughout the world.

I and others are very grateful for your courage in putting this story out.

Best,

Beth

add your comment



Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

ads keep care2 free

Recent Comments from Causes

The illegals(YES,That's EXACTLY What they Are!)I've encountered, ALL have this "gimmee,gimmee"attitude;All…

meet our writers

Kristina Chew Kristina Chew teaches and writes about ancient Greek and Latin and is Online Advocacy and Marketing... more
Story idea? Want to blog? Contact the editors!
ads keep care2 free

more from causes




Select names from your address book   |   Help
   

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.