Pakistan Imam Accuses Christian Girl of 'Conspiracy'
[An Nahar] A Pak holy man who handed over a young Christian girl to police on blasphemy charges after she burned papers containing Koranic verses said Friday what she did was a "conspiracy" to insult Moslems.
Hafiz Mohammed Khalid Chishti, the imam of the mosque in the poor Islamabad suburb of Mehrabad, insisted he had saved the girl, Rimsha, from mob violence by handing her to police but said the incident arose because Moslems had not stopped local Christians' "anti-Islam activities" earlier.
Rimsha was tossed in the slammer
Into the paddy wagon wit' yez!
and remanded in jug for a fortnight last Thursday after being accused of burning pages from a children's religious instruction book, which were inscribed with verses from the Moslem holy text.
The youngster reportedly suffers from Down's Syndrome and her treatment has prompted outrage from rights groups and concern from Western governments, but Chishti insisted she was fully aware of what she was doing.
"The girl who burnt the Koran has no mental illness and is a normal girl," Chishti told Agence La Belle France Presse.
"She did it knowingly, this is a conspiracy and not a mistake. She confessed what she did."
Under the Islamic republic's strict blasphemy laws, insulting the prophet Mohammed is punishable by death and burning a sacred text by life imprisonment, though rights groups say the legislation is often abused to settle personal vendettas.
Chishti claimed the local Christian community had previously caused antagonism by playing music in services at their makeshift church during Moslem prayer time and said burning the pages was deliberate.
"They committed this crime to insult us further. This happened because we did not stop their anti-Islam activities before," he said.
"Last Christmas, they played musical instruments and there was vulgarity in the streets during our prayers time. I warned them but they did not stop."
During his sermon at Friday prayers Chishti told worshippers it was "time for Moslems to wake up" and protect the Koran.
Posted by: Fred