20 Aug 2012

Child accused of blasphemy

8:52 am on 20 August 2012

A Christian girl is under arrest in Pakistan 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 the capital, Islamabad.

National Harmony minister Paul Bhatti said the girl, aged 11, is known to have learning difficulties and could not properly answer police questions.

Police took her parents into protective custody following threats.

Dr Bhatti said it seemed "unlikely she purposefully desecrated the Koran". He told the BBC:

''From the reports I have seen, she was found carrying a waste bag which also had pages of the Koran.

''This infuriated some 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."

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

The BBC reports many people accused of blasphemy have been killed by mobs. Politicians who advocate a change in legislation, have also been targeted.

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

Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, who also spoke out about the issue, was killed by a bodyguard two months earlier.