- - Monday, September 3, 2012

ISLAMABAD — Pakistani police are investigating whether a Muslim cleric who allegedly tried to frame a Christian girl for blasphemy should be charged with insulting Islam himself and potentially face life in prison, a police officer said Monday.

Khalid Chishti was arrested Saturday after a member of his mosque accused him of stashing pages of a Koran in a Christian girl’s bag to make it seem like she burned the Islamic holy book. He allegedly planted the evidence to push Christians out of his neighborhood in Islamabad. He has denied the allegations.

The case has generated significant international attention because of reports that the girl is as young as 11 and is mentally handicapped.

Human rights activists have long criticized Pakistan’s harsh blasphemy laws, saying they are misused to persecute non-Muslims and settle personal vendettas. They have hailed Mr. Chishti’s arrest as unprecedented and hope it will prevent false blasphemy accusations in the future.

More immediately, they have called for the release of the Christian girl, who has been held in prison for over two weeks.

She will remain in jail until at least Friday after her bail hearing was postponed for a second time Monday, said her lawyer.


Amazon, eBay users targeted by tax rule

BUENOS AIRES — Argentina’s tax agency has imposed still more rules on purchases outside the country.

New regulations effective Monday apply a 15 percent tax to purchases using online sites or debit cards. Credit cards were subject to similar measures issued Friday.

Now all purchases of any kind using the financial system must be fully reported to the tax agency.

The goal is to compare purchases to customs declarations, and apply stiff fines or even criminal charges when they don’t match.

Many products can’t be found in Argentina due to import restrictions, currency controls and soaring inflation, so consumers use Amazon, eBay and other sites and arrange for travelers to bring the purchases in their suitcases.

Now consumers may think again before smuggling in anything from maple syrup to iPods and digital TVs.


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