ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - A Christian girl who was arrested under Pakistan's controversial anti-blasphemy law may have moved a step closer to freedom on Sunday after police detained a Muslim cleric on suspicion of planting evidence to frame her.
Still, Rimsha Masih, whose arrest last month angered religious and secular groups worldwide, may be in danger if she returns from jail to her village.
Some Muslim neighbors insist she should still be punished, and said the detained imam was a victim.
Under Muslim Pakistan's anti-blasphemy law, the mere allegation of causing offence to Islam can mean death. Those accused are sometimes killed by members of the public even if they are found innocent by the courts.
"Pour petrol and burn these Christians," said Iqbal Bibi, 74, defending the imam on the steps of the mosque where he preaches in Masih's impoverished village of Mehr Jaffer. "The cleric of the mosque has been oppressed. He is not at fault. He is innocent."
Masih was accused by Muslim neighbors of burning Islamic religious texts and arrested, but on Sunday police official Munir Hussain Jafri said a cleric had been taken into custody after witnesses reported he had torn pages from a Koran and planted them in Masih's bag beside burned papers.
The imam, Khalid Jadoon Chishti, appeared briefly in court on Sunday before he was sent to jail for a 14-day judicial remand.
A bail hearing will be held on Monday for Masih, whose case has re-focused a spotlight on Pakistan's anti-blasphemy law, under which anyone who speaks ill of Islam and the Prophet Mohammad commits a crime punishable by death.
Activists and human rights groups say vague terminology has led to its misuse, and that the law dangerously discriminates against the country's tiny minority groups.
Critics of Pakistan's leaders say they are too worried about an extremist backlash to speak out against the law in a nation where religious conservatism is increasingly prevalent. (Continue Reading.)
Sunday, September 2, 2012
Muslim Imam Khalid Jadoon Chishti Detained by Police for Planting Evidence in Pakistani Blasphemy Case
We have no words to describe the sort of man who would plant evidence on a little girl in order get her killed over false blasphemy charges. Words like "coward" and "pathetic" are simply inadequate. And this isn't some random Muslim villager. This is a Muslim leader!