She was not even sure of her own name, but they were sure she had blasphemed Islam — yet another indication of how Pakistan’s blasphemy laws victimize non-Muslims. Instead of prattling about Islam’s tradition of tolerance, Obama should have called upon Pakistan and other Muslim countries to repeal all such laws.
“Muslims Accuse Mentally Challenged Girl of Blasphemy,” by Jawad Mazhar and Jeremy Sewall for International Christian Concern, June 19 (thanks to Maxwell):
The General Secretary of a fundamentalist Muslim party in Pakistan accused a Christian girl of blasphemy, taking her to the police who interrogated her for 16 hours.On June 3, Muhammad Abid Raza returned to his home in Kharian to find that his younger brother had saved burnt pages of the Koran in plastic bags which he claimed had been burned by their Christian neighbor, Nazia. Even though it was 10pm, Raza said that he immediately alerted the Saddar Police Station.
The next day, police arrived at Nazia’s home and took her and her family members to the police station for questioning, where they kept her for 16 hours. Police realized she was mentally challenged when she failed to respond clearly to basic questions. When police asked her name, she responded, “Nadia.” A few moments later she suddenly said, “No, my name is Shaista,” and then, “No, my name may be Nazia.”
Raza did his own research after accusing her of blasphemy, inquiring about her from neighbors and discussing the issue with Muslim clerics. His investigation led him to drop his charges against Nazia and request that police set her free on June 5.
Jeremy Sewall, ICC’s Advocacy Director, said, “There are two major concerns with this story. First, this is another example of why Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are morally and legally bankrupt. Second, it shows that not even the mentally challenged are adequately protected from harassment and persecution. Praise God that Nazia was released, but her case illustrates exactly why Pakistan must repeal its extremist blasphemy laws.”