In this photo, Muslims protest after hearing that Asia Bibi,
another Christian woman accused of blasphemy,
might be granted clemency. She was not.
Pakistani police have taken 11-year-old Rimsha Masih into custody after a mob accused her of desecrating pages with verses from the Qur'an. The mob demanded the Christian girl's arrest and threatened to burn down Christian homes outside the capital Islamabad. More than 600 people have fled from the Christian neighbourhood and her parents have been taken into protective custody following threats. Officials said the girl could not properly answer police questions. It is thought that the girl has Down Syndrome. Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari has ordered an investigation into the arrest.
The girl's plight is likely to reignite debate about growing religious intolerance in Muslim-majority Pakistan, where strict anti-blasphemy laws make defaming Islam or the Prophet Mohammed or desecrating the Qur'an, a capital offence.
Human rights activists say the law is often used to settle petty disputes, but in the face of huge public support for the legislation, the government says it has no plans to change it. Many of those accused of blasphemy have been killed by violent mobs, while politicians who advocate a change in legislation have also been targeted.
Please pray for this young girl and her family. Pray for their protection and for her release, pray for the Christian families who fled their homes. Pray this case will shed further light on the problems of the current blasphemy laws and bring about change.
To learn more about the suffering Church in Pakistan, please visit the Pakistan Country Report.