ISLAMABAD: A young Pakistani Christian girl accused of blasphemy in a case that has prompted international concern will stay in jail until at least Friday, after a bail hearing on Monday was adjourned.
Rimsha has been in custody since being arrested in a poor Islamabad suburb, Mehrabadia, two and a half weeks ago, accused of burning papers containing verses from the Holy Quran, in breach of Pakistan’s strict blasphemy laws.
Judge Muhammad Azam Khan adjourned the case until September 7 because of a lawyers’ strike, following a request from the lawyer for Rimsha’s neighbour Hammad Malik, who filed the original complaint against her.
Police on Saturday arrested Hafiz Mohammed Khalid Chishti, the imam of the mosque in Rimsha’s area who first submitted the burnt papers as evidence against her, after his deputy told the police that he had tampered with the evidence.
Chishti’s deputy Maulvi Hafiz Mohammad Zubair and two others, Mohammad Shahzad and Awais Ahmed, told a magistrate the cleric added pages from the Holy Quran to the burnt pages brought to him by a witness to beef up the case against her.
A medical report last week said Rimsha appeared to be around 14 years old, which would make her a minor, and had a mental age below her true age, but the court has yet to decide whether to accept the assessment.
Some reports have said Rimsha has Down’s Syndrome and her case has prompted concern from Western governments and anger from rights groups, who warn the blasphemy legislation is often abused to settle personal vendettas.