Pakistani Muslim cleric arrested for framing girl in custody for blasphemy

Police in Pakistan have arrested a Muslim cleric over claims he framed a Christian girl who has been held for several weeks under controversial anti-blasphemy laws.

The imam was detained after witnesses said he had torn pages from a Koran and placed them in her bag which had burned papers. She is accused of burning Islamic religious texts.

There have been conflicting reports about Rimsha Masih’s age and her mental state. Some media have said she is 11 and suffers from Down’s Syndrome.

But what is certain is that her arrest has sparked outrage in Pakistan and abroad. Activists and human rights groups say vague terminology has led to its misuse, and that the law dangerously discriminates against the Muslim country’s tiny minority groups.

Several hundred Christians left her poor village outside the capital Islamabad after mosques reported over their loudspeakers what the girl was alleged to have done.

Under Pakistan’s blasphemy law, anyone who speaks ill of Islam and the Prophet Mohammad commits a crime and faces the death penalty.
A bail hearing will be held on Monday for Masih


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