Pakistani mentally disabled 11-year-old arrested for "blasphemy"


Deaf Pakistani men carry the Koran and placards during a protest in Lahore on March 18, 2012, over the burning of Korans in Afghanistan.



An 11-year-old girl allegedly suffering from Down's Syndrome has been arrested in Pakistan for burning pages of the Noorani Qaida, an Islamic religious text, according to Pakistan's Daily Times. 

The trouble began when the girl, who has been identified as Rifta Masih, was seen playing outside her house and allegedly burning pages of the holy book in Mehrabadi village, close to Islamabad. 

According to the Express Tribune, she was then beaten by locals, while her family fled the area to avoid reprisals. (The police deny that she was beaten, but admit she suffers from Down's Syndrome). 

The girl, along with her mother, was jailed - the Asian Human Rights Commission claims the girl's mother and sister both remain missing, though this information isn't yet in other news sources.

(The Asian Human Rights Commission's report is rather harrowing and worth a read, though it hasn't been corroborated that the girl was somehow set up by the nearby Muslim community to attack her Christian family). 

Although police were reluctant to charge someone so young, the Express Tribune claims that locals surrounded the police station and pressured them into registering the case and formally arresting Masih on Thursday. 

Pakistan's Adviser to the Prime Minister on Minorities Affairs Paul Bhatti is attempting to help the girl and her family with legal assistance, and has talked to religious scholars, who will attempt after Eid to determine if the girl's act was deliberate. 

Pakistan's Daily Times reports "at least 2,300" Christians have been forced to flee and go into hiding due to the incident. 

In July, the Express Tribune reported that a "deranged" man was beaten and burned alive for blasphemy in the Southern Punjab.