21st Aug 2012 4:47pm | By Religious extremism correspondent
An investigation will be launched into the arrest of an illiterate young Pakistani Christian girl who is accused of burning pages of the Koran.
The girl Rimsha Masih is said to have Down’s Syndrome, however this is denied by police who also refute the Christian community’s reporting of her age as 11-13. Police say she is 16.
Rimsha was arrested last week in Islamabad after hundreds of her Muslim neighbours surrounded her family home, claiming she had burnt the Koran and had been seen with the ashes.
Reports into what actually took place vary. Some say Rimsha had been burning paper from a rubbish pile to use for cooking when someone entered the house and made the allegations.
A spokesman for President Asif Ali Zardari said: “The president has called for a report into this incident, to find out what happened. He should know what is going on,” he said.
Concerned campaigners say the country’s blasphemy laws, which date back to the dates of British rule and which were tightened during the regime of military leader Muhammad Zia ul-Haq, are being increasingly used by extremists to settle personal scores.
Blasphemy carries a harsh sentence on Pakistan. Those convicted face a possible death sentence.
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