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A Christian girl arrested in Pakistan for desecrating Koran

An 11-year-old Christian girl has been arrested after being accused of desecrating pages of the Koran.

She was detained for blasphemy after an angry mob demanded her arrest and threatened to burn down Christian homes outside of the capital, Islamabad, Pakistani media say.

The girl is known to have learning difficulties and could not properly answer police questions, officials say.

Police have taken her parents into protective custody following threats.

Dr Paul Bhatti, Pakistan’s minister for National Harmony, told the BBC that the girl was known to have a mental disorder and that it seemed “unlikely she purposefully desecrated the Koran”.

“From the reports I have seen, she was found carrying a waste bag which also had pages of the Koran. This infuriated some local people and a large crowd gathered to demand action against her. The police were initially reluctant to arrest her, but they came under a lot of pressure from a very large crowd, who were threatening to burn down Christian homes.”

He added: “Her parents have also been taken into protective custody because they were frightened of threats against them.

“More than 600 people have fled from that Christian neighbourhood. We are working to ensure their security so they can return to their homes.”

He said the incident took place on 17 August after Friday prayers.

Rights activists have urged Pakistan to reform its controversial blasphemy laws, under which a person can be jailed for life for desecrating the Koran.

Many of those accused of blasphemy have been killed by violent mobs, while politicians who advocate a change in legislation have also been targeted.

Last year, Shahbaz Bhatti, the minister for minority affairs, was killed after calling for the repeal of the blasphemy law.

His death came just two months after the murder of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, who also spoke out about the issue.


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