A Christian girl in Islamabad, Pakistan, was accused of burning pages of the Quran and arrested for blasphemy and will face the death penalty, but residents say she has Down syndrome and is illiterate.
The girl was reportedly seen by another resident burning the pages and using them as fuel for cooking, which led to her arrest because it’s considered blasphemy in the country.
Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari has ordered his Interior Ministry to investigate the arrest, the Los Angeles Times reports.
After the incident, religious tensions and rallies involving Muslim protesters forced Christians to temporarily flee Mehrabad, the Islamabad neighborhood where Rimsha resides, a senior official of All Pakistan Minorities Alliance told AFP.
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.
“About 500-600 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.
The Women’s Action Forum, a Pakistan rights group, blasted the arrest and accused police of not letting lawyers meet Rimsha in custody.
“WAF is outraged at the total inhumanity of the men who lodged the First Information Report in the police,” a spokeswoman for the group told AFP.
But some police officials doubt reports that Rimsha burned parts of the Koran.
Qasim Niazi said 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.