A prominent national Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization today called on the government of Pakistan to release Rimsha Masih, a Christian girl who is being held on blasphemy charges after she was accused of burning pages from a textbook that included verses from the Quran. Human rights organizations report that the girl, who is a minor, may have Down syndrome.
SEE: Amnesty International: Ensure Safety of Girl Whose Life Is at Risk
In a statement, the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said:
"It is imperative that the government of Pakistan immediately release Rimsha Masih and ensure her safety and that of her family and their community. The arrest of such a young person, especially if she has a mental disability, is a serious violation of Islamic principles.
"Human rights violations like this must be condemned and challenged not only because of their great injustice against vulnerable people, but also because they are falsely committed in the name of Islam.
"It is reported that an angry mob played a role in inciting this arrest, and we ask Pakistani officials to investigate those circumstances. The reports of media and human rights organizations depict actions by local officials and extremist leaders that are unjust and contradictory to Islamic teachings.
"In this incident it is not the girl who violated Islam's teachings but the extremists who seem to have fueled this unfounded anger.
"We recognize that President Zardari has ordered local officials to explain the arrest, but we urge more concrete actions to protect minorities and other vulnerable members of society."
SEE: Christian Girl's Blasphemy Arrest Incites a Furor in Pakistan (New York Times)
SEE: Amnesty Urges Pakistan to Protect Blasphemy Charge Girl (AFP)