Christian girl Rimsha Masih was arrested after angry Muslim neighbours said she had burned pages of the Koran. Witnesses from Masih’s village on the edge of the capital Islamabad say he had torn pages from a Koran and planted them in Masih’s bag beside burned papers, reports the Daily Mail.
Reports have differed over the girl’s age – some officials say say she is 11 years old – and whether she suffered from Down’s Syndrome. It was reported that when the girl was brought to the police station she was scared and unable to speak normally, and medics have noted that her mental capacity does not seem to match her age.
Under Pakistani law, anyone who is found guilty of speaking ill of Islam and the Prophet Mohammad faces the death penalty. Although this sentence has never been carried out, mob killings are common after accusations have been made.
Convictions often depend on witness testimony and according to many Christian groups, are often linked to vendettas. Christians make up just four percent of Pakistan’s population of 180 million and say the blasphemy law offers them no protection.
Activists and human rights groups agree that vague terminology has led to its misuse, and that the law dangerously discriminates against the Muslim country’s tiny minority groups.