- - 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.


Israel wants new name for Hitler clothing shop

NEW DELHI — Israel has complained to the Indian state of Gujarat about a menswear shop there named “Hitler.”

Israel’s consul general to the city of Mumbai, Orna Sagiv, says she asked state officials Monday to intervene to help get the store’s name changed.

She said she tried to explain to them “how grave and serious the issue is.”

The shop opened last month with a huge sign reading “Hitler” and a Nazi swastika inside the dot in the letter “i.”

The owner said he didn’t know about Hitler’s history when the name was suggested by his partner, whose stern grandfather was nicknamed Hitler.

The Nazi dictator who led the extermination of Jews in World War II Europe is a subject of routine fascination in India.


Kurdish rebels kill 10 in attack on border

ISTANBUL — Kurdish militants have killed 10 police and soldiers in an assault near the Iraqi border, Turkish officials said Monday, amid concern that rebels are seeking to capitalize on regional tensions caused by Syria’s civil war with a more intense campaign of attacks in Turkey.

The attack happened late Sunday in southeastern Sirnak province, a traditional area for militants who have bases in northern Iraq. An undetermined number of Kurdish guerrillas also were killed.

The rebel Kurdistan Workers’ Party has benefited from past upheaval and power vacuums in the region, notably after the 1991 Persian Gulf War and the fall of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in a U.S.-led invasion in 2003. Iraqi Kurds consolidated their own ministate in northern Iraq, inspiring those Kurds in Turkey who want self-rule.


Universities reopen for first time since conflict

ABIDJAN — Ivory Coast’s universities reopened on Monday for the first time since postelection violence rocked the West African nation last year, a milestone officials described as a testament to the country’s recovery.

In remarks at a newly refurbished university in Abidjan, President Alassane Ouattara expressed hope that the universities — once hotbeds of violence — would become engines of development.

Mr. Ouattara defeated ex-President Laurent Gbagbo in the 2010 election, but Mr. Gbagbo refused to cede office, nearly dragging the country into civil war.

Mr. Gbagbo, a former professor, drew considerable support from the country’s universities, particularly from the main student union, which morphed into a militialike group during the conflict.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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