Muslims torched Christian homes and “destroyed” a church in a slum area of Islamabad while suspected militants shot at another church outside Pakistan’s capital, after the jailing of a mentally handicapped Christian girl for “blasphemy”, witnesses said Tuesday, August 21 “We found that five houses were burned and one church was destroyed,”
The latest violence came as 11-year-old Rimsha Masih was preparing to spend another night in Adiala jail, a grim facility in Rawalpindi, close to Islamabad.
Police jailed the girl Friday, August 17, after at least hundreds of Muslim protesters demanded that she face charges under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.
A local cleric had said she burned pages of the Noorani Qaida, a religious textbook used to teach the Koran to children.
Masih is thought to be mentally handicapped, but police quoted in some media claimed “she had no mental impairments” and that she may be older.
Muslim mobs have been pressuring the girl’s Christian neighbors and others to flee.
Thousands of Christians were still outside the slum area where the alleged burning incident happened, fearing for their lives, human rights workers said.
There were concerns late Tuesday, August 21, that at least several Christian refugees will have no place to return to, amid reports of burning homes. it is distributing to that food among hundreds of impoverished Christians.
Under Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy legislation anyone, including apparently minors, can face the death penalty or at least a long prison term for blasphemy against Islam.