Muslim Cleric Burns Qur'an, Frames Girl


Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 00:38 AM EDT, 5 September 2012

Girl with Green Shawl, Peshawar, Pakistan, 2002, Photo by Dr. RizISLAMABAD, Pakistan - On 2 September 2012, Pakistani police officials have conceded that the young Christian girl, Rimsha Masih, who was arrested and being detained under the blasphemy law, was wrongly accused.

Police have determined that she was framed by a local Muslim cleric, Khalid Jadoon, who was among the first to accuse her of burning the Qur'an, a crime that is punishable by death under Section 295-C of the blasphemy law.

This section of the law states that, “Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.”

Masih is not the first female to fall victim to a law which some believe is designed less to protect the sanctity of the Qur'an, and more about disenfranchising Christians, Hindus, Ahmadies, and Shias, silencing dissident Muslims, and in some cases used as a tool by larcenous individuals to appropriate the property of others.

In July 2010 two Christian brothers who were accused of writing a blasphemous letter against the Prophet Mohammad were gunned down outside a court in the eastern city of Faisalabad. Then in November of that same year, a Christian mother of five, Asia Bibi, was convicted and sentenced to death under this law and remains on death row.

According to the Associated Press “a local man, Hafiz Zubair, came forward to offer testimony in which he claims to have seen Jadoon fabricating evidence by mixing holy text pages with ashes. Speaking to a local news channel, Zubair said: ‘I asked Jadoon why he was fabricating the evidence. He said that this would ensure a strong case against the girl and would ultimately help them in evicting the Christians from the locality.’"

Despite Jadoon’s arrest and vociferous national and international pressure to secure her freedom, Masih remains incarcerated. Attempts to overturn the blasphemy law have met with violent opposition including the assassination of two high profile Pakistani politicians; former Governor Punjabi Salman Taseer and Federal Minority Minister Shahbaz Bhatti both of whom opposed the death sentence of Asia Bibi.

Since 2009 Christian churches and houses across Pakistan have been targeted and burned by Muslim neighbors who had been incited to violence by false accusations of the desecration of the Qur'an. During at least one of these rampages reportedly seven Christians were burned alive. Christians, who make up four percent of Pakistan's population of 180 million, have faced increased persecution under the blasphemy law.

Follow Nahmias Cipher Report on Twitter
Twitter: @nahmias_report Editor: @ayannanahmias