An 11-year-old Christian girl who reportedly has Down syndrome and/or learning disabilities has been arrested for blasphemy in Pakistan. Identified only as Rimsha in Agence France-Presse, the girl was arrested after being found holding burnt pages of the Koran and Islamic texts in public on Thursday and was taken to a police station in Islamabad where she has been since detained.
Under Pakistan’s blasphemy law, a person can be jailed for life for desecrating the Koran.
Dr Paul Bhatti, Pakistan’s minister for National Harmony, has told the BBC that Rimsha’s parents have been taken into protective custody and that 600 people have fled from their Christian neighborhood in Mehrabad, a section of Islamabad. Bhatti also said that, due to the girl’s “mental disorder,” it “unlikely she purposefully desecrated the Koran” and that
“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.”
In contrast to the previous situations in which some idiot pastor deliberately burned copies of the Quran or the US Army accidentally dumped one of them in their incinerator, this is a story about a mentally disadvantaged 11 year-old girl who, by all accounts, didn’t have any real idea of what she was doing or understood the consequences of her actions.
Not that I could blame her for failing to grasp the idea of a large number of adults so quickly and violently losing all contact with reality as to collectively threaten to burn down the homes of people of the same religious denomination as this girl and her family. As I’ve said before … it’s acceptable to be upset at the desecration of your holy book, but if it commands you to respond to such an act by going on a destructive rampage then you might want to seriously question the judgment – and sanity – of the god who supposedly wrote it. To suggest that such a book provides a good moral foundation – or any moral foundation – for a modern society clearly ignores the savagery and barbarism exemplified by its most devout followers.