Pakistani Girl Jailed, Accused Of Blasphemy
Local residents accused the girl, identified as Ramsha, of burning pages from the holy text of the Islamic faith after she gathered paper as fuel for cooking, according to a statement released by the president’s office.
Qasim Niazi, the police officer in charge of the station near where the incident occurred, denied media reports that the girl has Down syndrome, but said she is illiterate and has not attended school. Niazi added that about 150 people had threatened to burn down houses where the neighborhood’s Christian population resides.
Under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, anyone found guilty of insulting Islam’s Prophet Muhammad or defacing the Quran can face life in prison or execution, according to the Associated Press. But critics argue the laws are often misused to harass the country’s non-Muslim minority.
"It has been exploited by individuals to settle personal scores, to grab land, to violate the rights of non-Muslims, to basically harass them," said the head of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Zora Yusuf.
About 2 million Christians live in Pakistan, which is roughly 1 percent of the nation’s population, according to government figures.