- Obama not worried about Ebola at upcoming African summit in D.C.
- Obama: ‘We tortured some folks’ after 9/11
- Obama administration asked whole D.C. Circuit to take on major Obamacare case
- Mark Levin: Topple GOP leadership or country will ‘unravel’
- Massachusetts to let police chief deny gun buys to those deemed unfit
- John Kerry condemns attack on Israeli soldiers, kidnapping
- U.S. starts to evacuate American Ebola patients from West Africa: Report
- Geraldo slammed as ‘dummy’ for backing Clinton’s bin Laden claim
- Israeli spokesman: No need to debate who broke the cease-fire
- 35 Palestinians killed; Israeli officer missing
Pakistani police investigating Christian girl for blasphemy
Question of the Day
ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistani authorities arrested a Christian girl and are investigating whether she violated the country’s strict blasphemy laws after furious neighbors surrounded her house and demanded police take action, a police officer said Monday.
The arrest of the girl and outrage among the local community demonstrates the deep emotion that suspected blasphemy cases can evoke in this conservative Muslim country, where rising extremism often means religious minorities live in fear of persecution.
In Pakistan, anyone found guilty of insulting Islam’s Prophet Muhammad or its holy book, the Quran, can be sentenced to death, although they’re rarely if ever executed.
A Pakistani police officer, Zabi Ullah, said Monday that the girl was arrested Thursday after hundreds of neighbors, angry over reports she had allegedly burned religious papers, gathered outside her house in a poor outlying district of the capital, Islamabad.
He said that the police took the girl to the police station and that she’s been held for 14 days while authorities investigate.
“About 500 to 600 people had gathered outside her house in Islamabad, and they were very emotional, angry and they might have harmed her if we had not quickly reacted,” he said.
“Some Muslims from the area claim the girl had burned pages of the Quran, and we are investigating, and we have not reached any conclusion,” he said.
Another police official, Qasim Niazi, said that when the girl was brought to the police station, she had a shopping bag that contained various religious and Arabic-language papers that had been partly burned but no Quran.
Another police officer said the matter would likely be dropped once the investigation is completed and the atmosphere is defused, saying there was “nothing much to the case.” He did not want to be identified because of the sensitivity of the case.
There were varying reports on the girl’s age and whether she was mentally handicapped. Officer Ullah said she was 16 while other officials have said she was either 12 or 11. Mr. Niazi said that when the girl was brought to the police station she was scared and unable to speak normally, but he did not know whether she was mentally handicapped.
Christians often live in fear that they will be accused of blasphemy, and many critics say the legislation is sometimes used to settle scores.
Angry mobs have been known to sometimes take the law into their own hands and beat or kill people who are accused of violating the blasphemy laws. In July, thousands of people dragged a Pakistani man accused of desecrating the Quran from a police station in the central Pakistani city of Bahawalpur, beat him to death and then set his body on fire.
Attempts to revoke or alter the blasphemy laws have been met with violent opposition, however.
Last year, two prominent Pakistani political figures who spoke out against the laws were killed in attacks that raised concerns about the rise of religious extremism in Pakistan.
Liberal politician Salman Taseer was shot and killed by one of his own guards in January 2011, and in March 2011 militants gunned down Shahbaz Bhatti, the only Christian minister in Pakistan’s Cabinet.
TWT Video Picks
Out of "the shadows," they demand citizenship without consequences
- House GOP resurrects border bill, predicts successful Friday vote
- Border agents cleared of civil rights complaints from illegal immigrant children
- Ben Carson takes major step toward presidential campaign
- U.N. condemns Israel, U.S. for not sharing Iron Dome with Hamas
- Obama military strategy too weak for future security, panel reports
- Porn-surfing feds blame boredom, lack of work for misbehavior
- Feds raid S.C. home to seize Land Rover in EPA emission-control crackdown
- CRUZ: A tale of two hospitals: One in Israel, one in Gaza
- Ted Nugent slams 'lying freaks' at liberal media: I'm 'doing God's work'
- ON THE RUN: Competition for Redskins backup running back is heating up
Top 10 U.S. military helicopters
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors