An Islamic religious leader has been accused of framing a young Pakistani Christian 13 year old named Rishma Mashi. The girl has down syndrome and was acused of burning Islamic texts.
It is reported that the suspect Hafiz Mohammed Khalid Chishti planted burnt Islamic texts near her house. He claimed, “it was the only way to get of the Christians in the area.” Hafiz was a strong anti-christian figure in Pakistani. After he said that, apparently hundreds of people demanded that they have the right to burn the girl to death—most Christians fled the area.
The girl’s lawyer argued that Havid should be prosecuted under the blasphemy law, as it will set a precedent against anyone else who tries to misuse the law. In Pakistani, the blasphemy laws have been widely abused as a powerful way to settle scores and disputes. It led to long jail terms on weak evidence. Which results into the evidence not being properly examined in court due to fear of repeating any blasphemy.
In the end, public criticism of the law itself is dangerous. Two prominent politicians have been assassinated by religious hardliners after speaking out. Court decisions in the past have often confused what penalties should be applied in blasphemy cases in Pakistan. And although many blasphemous acts are said to require the death penalty, Pakistan is not known to have executed anyone under the law. Still, extremists outside the courts have killed many of the accused. Human rights activists say the blasphemy laws are too broad and vague, and that they often are used by people seeking to settle scores with rivals, or as a means of targeting Christians, Hindus and other members of minority religions. Pakistan has some 180 million people and is 95 percent Muslim.
Title: Pakistani mullah ‘planted charred texts’ on girl accused of blasphemy
Author: Jon Boone
Publication: The UK Guardian, September 2, 2012
Student Researcher: JJ Sotomayor, Sonoma State University
Faculty Advisor: Rich Campbell, Sonoma State University
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