Sunday, September 2, 2012

Inventing a blasphemer

Over a fortnight ago, a 14-year-old mentally-deficient girl named Rimsha (probably suffering from Down syndrome), said to be a Christian, was arrested and thrown into prison near Islamabad on blasphemy charges because it was claimed that she had set fire to papers that included pages from the Noorani Qaida, a religious book used to teach the Koran to children. In Pakistan, a crime such as that could lead to life imprisonment.

Richard Dawkins tweeted his indignation:

Meanwhile, nearly a million Internet users (including myself) have signed a petition on this case.

The girl's most outspoken accuser was an imam named Khalid Chishti.

I know it's not nice to judge people by their external appearance, but those eyes and that vague smile destabilize me somewhat. Frankly, if I happened to be thinking about purchasing a used rickshaw, for example, I wouldn't feel confident about accepting a vehicle proposed by Khalid Chishti.

I would be afraid that the vehicle might break down mysteriously in the middle of a neighborhood where they like to throw stones at people who look like white Christians.

Well, the latest news is that the imam Khalid Chishti has just been arrested because it is claimed that he set up this whole affair by inserting pages of the Koran in among the trivial papers that the girl was said to be burning. If the imam were truly guilty of doing this, that would make me a pretty shrewd used-rickshaw buyer. And it would make the imam a disgusting bastard. For the moment, however, since the case against the imam has not yet been judged, we should respect the principle of the presumption of his innocence... even though he and his supporters would have probably not argued that way concerning the accused child.

POST SCRIPTUM: I've deleted a comment that insulted the nation of Pakistan as a whole while advocating barbaric punishment for individuals who perpetrate evil deeds such as that for which the imam is accused. The imam's name is apparently spelled as Chishti rather than my initial spelling (Chisti). This morning (Monday, 3 September), Rimsha was still in prison, and will probably remain there until Friday, at the earliest. Shameful!

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