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Monday, August 20, 2012

Pakistani girl accused of Qur'an burning could face death penalty | World news | guardian.co.uk

The following excerpts are from The Guardian:
  • An 11-year-old Christian Pakistani girl could face the death penalty under the country's notorious blasphemy laws, after she was accused by her neighbours of deliberately burning sacred Islamic texts.
  • Rifta Masih was arrested on Thursday, after complaints against her prompted angry demonstrations. Asif Ali Zardari, the president, has ordered the interior ministry to investigate the case.
  • As communal tensions continued to rise, about 900 Christians living on the outskirts of Islamabad have been ordered to leave a neighbourhood where they have lived for almost two decades.
  • On Sunday, houses on the backstreets of Mehrabadi, an area 20 minutes' drive from western embassies and government ministries, were locked with padlocks, their occupants having fled to already overcrowded Christian slums in and around the capital.
  • One of the senior members of the dominant Muslim community told the Christians to remove all their belongings from their houses by 1 September. "I don't think anyone will dare go back after this," said one Christian, Arif Masih. "The area is not safe for us now."
  • A few brave souls have stayed behind, but shopkeepers have refused to serve their Christian neighbours or supply them with water. Locals say only about 10% of families in the area are Christian, renting cramped houses from Muslim landlords. They tend to do dirty, menial jobs such as sewer maintenance.
  • Relations between the communities had been simmering for months after complaints were made about the noise coming from three churches in the area during religious services. Two of the landlords who owned the buildings had already ordered an end to worship and some services were forcibly broken up.
  • But there was no indication that all the Christians would be forced out so suddenly until Rifta was accused of the provocative act of burning the sacred words of Islam.
  • It sparked immediate demonstrations by crowds estimated at between 600 and 1,000 people, some of whom blocked the nearby Kashmir highway, the major road running west out of the capital.
  • The police, initially unwilling to take action, eventually charged the girl with blasphemy and took her into custody. The rest of the community, including her parents, fled.
Read more by clicking below:
Pakistani girl accused of Qur'an burning could face death penalty | World news | guardian.co.uk


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