Pakistan Girl Jailed, Accused Of Blasphemy

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

ISLAMABAD (AP) -- A Christian girl has been sent to a Pakistani prison after being accused by Muslim neighbors of burning pages of the Quran in violation of the country's strict blasphemy laws.

A police official said Monday there was little evidence that pages of the book had been burned and that the case would likely be dropped. But hundreds of angry neighbors gathered outside the girl's home last week demanding action.

Some human rights officials said the girl was mentally handicapped. Police gave conflicting reports of her age as 11 and 16.

Under Pakistan's blasphemy laws, anyone found guilty of insulting Islam's Prophet Muhammad or defiling the Quran can face life in prison or even execution. Critics say the laws are often misused to harass non-Muslims or target individuals.

In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland called the case "deeply disturbing". She said, "We urge the government of Pakistan to protect not just its religious minority citizens but also women and girls."

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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