Police arrest Christian girl's accuser


THE MULLAH at the centre of the furore surrounding a young Pakistani Christian girl who reportedly has Down syndrome and who faces a death sentence for blasphemy has been accused of deliberately framing her by planting burnt Islamic texts.

Hafiz Mohammed Khalid Chishti arrived in court blindfolded and under tight security after being arrested on Saturday. The judge ruled he should be held in police custody for two weeks.

Police say two of his colleagues gave statements that he added pages of the Koran to strengthen the case against Rimsha Masih, who has been accused by Muslim neighbours in Islamabad of burning the holy book. Offenders can be sentenced to death for the crime under the country’s much-criticised blasphemy laws.

Maulvi Zubair and other assistants at a mosque near Rimsha’s house told police Chishti deliberately added pages from the Koran to some charred refuse she had carried. Zubair is said to have objected but Chishti reportedly insisted it was the only way to get rid of Christians in the area.

Rimsha’s lawyers maintain she did not commit a crime. They say if she must face trial that it should be as a juvenile, as she is aged 13, and that she also has Down syndrome, and therefore “cannot commit such a crime”, according to her bail application.

Chishti has been outspoken in his dislike of Christian families in the area. He welcomed the departure of most Christians after Rimsha’s arrest. Hundreds had demonstrated outside her house, reportedly demanding the right to burn her to death, causing most Christians to flee. – (Guardian service)