Christian girl held on blasphemy cannot read: Vatican

Published: August 25, 2012
In a picture taken on on August 22, 2012, Pakistani Christian youth gather in a prayer room in the low-income neighbourhood of Mehrabad in the suburb of the capital Islamabad.  PHOTO: AFP

In a picture taken on on August 22, 2012, Pakistani Christian youth gather in a prayer room in the low-income neighbourhood of Mehrabad in the suburb of the capital Islamabad. PHOTO: AFP

VATICAN CITY: French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran on Saturday went to the defence of the young Pakistani girl accused of blasphemy, stressing that she “cannot read or write.”

Interviewed on Radio Vatican, Tauran, who is in charge of interfaith dialogue in the Vatican, said “that before asserting a sacred text has been the object of scorn, it is worth checking the facts.”

Rimsha, aged 11 to 16 according to different reports, is accused of burning pages from a children’s religious instruction book inscribed with verses from the Holy Quran. She was arrested and remanded in custody last Thursday.

But Tauran said that Rimsha “is a girl who cannot read or write and collects garbage to live on and picked up the fragments of the book which was in the middle of the rubbish.”

“The more serious and tense the situation, the more necessary it is to have dialogue,” added the cardinal, who was the late pope John Paul II’s foreign minister.

He also told the daily Il Sussidiario, that he believed it “impossible in the light of the facts that the girl had tried to express her scorn for the sacred book of Islam.”

The youngster reportedly has Down’s Syndrome and her arrest has prompted outrage from rights groups and concern from Western governments.

Rishma had been due to appear in court on Saturday but police and her lawyer said Friday that the hearing had been put back to August 31.

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Reader Comments (56)

  • Arif
    Aug 25, 2012 - 4:38PM

    Why has the vatican woken up so late? Christians have been facing horrific treatment in pakistan at the hands of the religious majority for a very long time.Why didn’t the Vatican speak up earlier against the mistreatment of Christians in pakistan? and it’s not only christians,but all non-muslims like Hindus,Parsis,Ahamdis as well as Atheists and agnostics who are forced to live as second class citizens in pakistani society.It’s time someone spoke up for the rights of the non-muslim pakistanis and the atheist pakistanis as well.


  • zeeshan mumtaz
    Aug 25, 2012 - 4:41PM

    There has been a blackout on the newschannels of this atrocity in Islamabad.there’s been just one segment on one show about this,other than that,none of the many dozens of talkshows said anything about this.Why the media blackout over this abuse of non-muslims in our country? Why this deliberate ignorance of this matter by our othrewise very active and vocal news anchors.
    Why no talkshow anchor is willing to do a show on this atrocity? Are the crimes against non-muslims not worthy of even a simple discussion on tv?


  • Yousuf Aziz
    Aug 25, 2012 - 4:47PM

    Too little,too late by the Vatican.The damage has already been done.The pope’s failure to speak publicly and loudly over this is most disappointing.One would have expected world leaders to speak out loudly against this horrifying abuse of a child for the sake of a religion.


  • Dr.A.K.Tewari
    Aug 25, 2012 - 4:57PM

    No one should dare to touch this girl now in Pakistan .

    All those will be involved in this case to punish her will be awarded with capital punishment by the world community .


  • elcay
    Aug 25, 2012 - 5:19PM

    @ Dr. A K Tewari,

    Sir, are you a spokesperson for any of the world bodies?No country can punish Pakistan as long as USA &C0( oil rich Arab countries) are there to defend Pakistan.Recommend

  • R Jaffar-ur-Rehman
    Aug 25, 2012 - 5:20PM

    Vatican should stop interfering in the internal affairs of Pakistan. It is catholic christian that is spreading its religion throughout the Muslim world.


  • Wajib
    Aug 25, 2012 - 5:27PM

    Who has asked for Vatican’s opinion – it is an internal matter of an Islamic nation and Vatican has no locus standii in it. This is simply an attempt to malign us. Recommend

  • munna
    Aug 25, 2012 - 5:33PM

    Pakistan – a country where innocents are proved guilty.


  • JoinHands!
    Aug 25, 2012 - 5:37PM

    Vatican! Wow! When did Makkah issued any statement against Quran burning, torching of mosques in the US? Let it be dealt according to the law of country.No Vatican please!


  • Love Truth Humanity Peace
    Aug 25, 2012 - 5:46PM

    People who express scorn and hatred for Quran -e- Pak are precisely the people who have not read the book. So the Cardinal needs to mind his own business and not interfere in the internal affairs of a sovereign Islamic nation.


  • adnan
    Aug 25, 2012 - 5:46PM

    All those who disgraded Holy Quran should be given an exemplrey punishment while justice must also be done keeping in mind the transparent investigation measuring all aspects.


  • adnan
    Aug 25, 2012 - 5:47PM

    @Arif: So do you think that Majority in Pakistan are being given their full rights….


  • ThisMeansWar
    Aug 25, 2012 - 6:01PM

    @above: And why isn’t the media speaking about the outrage in Myanmar? You dont seem to feeling it when Muslims are facing the fire.
    And besides, the law will speak for the girl. She is not left away in dungeon, she has a lawyer and support of her fellows. And honestly, if she really is a down syndrome: then mine as well. But when the similar discrimination is happening to Muslims, the same “Hindus,Parsis,Ahamdis as well as Atheists and agnostics who are forced to live as second class citizens in pakistani society” don’t speak a word. Think about that!Recommend

  • Nasir Ali
    Aug 25, 2012 - 6:02PM

    A christian girl was caught in Pakistan and and all the world woke up. Where were these so called liberals when Muslims were brutally killed in Burma.


  • baig
    Aug 25, 2012 - 6:03PM

    We still live in stone age.


  • Dr.A.K.Tewari
    Aug 25, 2012 - 6:08PM

    @ holy seat at vetican , Even majority of muslims can’t read quaran what to say about a christian girl with low IQ . I can bet you , if possible …

    Carrot and stick policy has to be made only stick policy to repeal the black law of blasphemy .


  • Dr.A.K.Tewari
    Aug 25, 2012 - 6:19PM

    @beig, well said , i would like to add…….
    But are very eager to enjoy all the advantages of modern world ……


  • Cautious
    Aug 25, 2012 - 6:24PM

    Hows that Presidential ordered investigation coming? Hows that Abbottabad investigation coming? How that Olympics lawsuit against the Sun coming? Pakistan has a terrible international reputation and you don’t appear to be taking any steps to improve it.

  • Dr.A.K.Tewari
    Aug 25, 2012 - 6:25PM


    but are eager to enjoy all the advantages of modern world .

    Now no more duelity is acceptable .


  • Aug 25, 2012 - 6:35PM

    I am sure the little girl did this inadvertently.President should take the bold and right step,use his powers available to him under the constitution to order immediate release and provide security for her and her family. This is not the Islam of profit Mohammad (saw). Islam is kind,considerate,full of love, vigorously against cruelty to children,fairness for all, forgiving and totally against extremism. If this would have happen on profit Mohammad (saw) watch, he would have forgiven the child.Allah has locked our brains in Pakistan in anger because of inter-faith killings, intolerance towards minorities,robberies,fraud,bribery,corruption,ethnic hate,disrespect for others,murders and no respect for the rule of law of the land.In fact the culture in Pakistan is totally unislamic.Hope Allah forgive us Pakistanis and unlock our brains so that we can think straight and right and mend our ways.


  • Synesthesia
    Aug 25, 2012 - 6:37PM

    Let’s get this Down’s business outta the way. If she has Down’s Syndrome, she would have very characteristic face and other externally observable features which should resolve the matter. Secondly, in every humane society, interested in the benefit of it’s people, there should be forensic psychiatry services which should help clarify the matter. Even in the absence of such services, a psychiatrist (properly trained) should be commissioned to see whether the girl is fit for interview and then should be produced before magistrate/court immediately. She should not be held without charge on remand, even in a juvenile prison. Her security within prison should also be given due importance as she can be at a risk from other prisoners or for that matter fanatic policemen as well.
    D.O.I. I am a psychiatrist working in the U.K.


  • Suraj
    Aug 25, 2012 - 6:41PM

    The Suppressors of minorities are well protected by the LAW of this LAND OF PURE(?) and are treated like Protectors of official Faith.. One can’t expect much from the STATE.


  • Aug 25, 2012 - 6:41PM

    Absolutely,Repeal the law of blasphemy without delay.


  • Khan
    Aug 25, 2012 - 6:45PM

    @Nasir Ali:
    Assuming you’re Pakistani .. I would ask you a question .. If you’re own brother or daughter is starving and you are able to get enough food to feed one person .. Would you feed them or will go to another city to feed some one else?
    If you’re so concerned about Burma why not pack up and move over there and never come back to my country since you don’t care for it.


    Aug 25, 2012 - 6:47PM

    what a shame? a minor has been accused of blasphemy and people who call themselves Muslims are adamant to punish her even execute her…..and by the way this is happening in Punjab where “Shers of lahore are ruling and rivers of milk are flowing and city is rebuilding on Paris style” …everything is like a fairy tale in Punjab and but people have no guts to talk about this incident which is a blot on society..though i support blasphemy law…but this is certainly not the parameter of blasphemy…blasphemy applies on supporters of Salman rushdie, Tasleema Nasreen and jhangvi of LEJ.
    Just to remind the readers that people involved in Kamra air base attack have been confirmed that they were from Punjab and the people who murdered innocent hazaras were also from Punjab mainly belonging and following the banned terrorist ideology of Jhangvi. But i bet pak government will not have the guts to accept this.


  • It Is (still) Economy Stupid
    Aug 25, 2012 - 6:52PM

    @R Jaffar-ur-Rehman: ‘Vatican should stop interfering in the internal affairs of Pakistan. It is catholic christian that is spreading its religion throughout the Muslim world.”
    In Pakistan we do the same Pakistani way by kidnapping girls of Hindu community and forcefully convert them or force there family to move to India. We kill our Shia brothers and deny rights to Ahmadi, force Christian to move, we kill our Governor of Punjab for supporting minority, kidnap his son in ransom, we shower rose petal on Qadri a killer of this governor, we kill our Christian Minister Bhatti,. These are all internal matters of Pakistan other everything in Pakistan is A OK. How dare Vatican raise an issue on this matter? Do you get the message or should I continue with my list.


  • Anthony Permal
    Aug 25, 2012 - 8:24PM

    Lol. People are hilarious. They want Vatican to mind their own business as it is an internal matter of Pakistan, yet want Pakistan and the international community to interfere in Burma, Kashmir, etc.



  • Anna
    Aug 25, 2012 - 8:24PM

    How about the mistreatment of quranic verses that are published on front pages of every major Urdu newspaper? Anyone can find these papers in garbage in Pakistani cities too.

    Also, every time with a suicide bombing in a mosque or shrine, Quran gets burned there too besides the precious human lives and Pakistani values. This is no mistreatment of Quran in Pakistani ???

    Only of its a Christian gets accused the whole lot of ghairat brigade wakes up and demand lynching.


  • Polpot
    Aug 25, 2012 - 8:54PM

    Sue Vatican…this is clearly a conspiracy…


  • sajid
    Aug 25, 2012 - 9:01PM

    For God’s sake people she is 11 years old. She is illiterate. I really doubt Christians and other religions burn Holy Quran in their house for the sake of it especially in Pakistan.
    Open your eyes. How can you expect the world to respect you in Burma and Kashmir when you can’t even treat children like human beings??Recommend

  • riaz
    Aug 25, 2012 - 9:02PM

    please leave Pakistan and stay there in vatican or indiaRecommend

  • Raj - USA
    Aug 25, 2012 - 9:03PM

    “All those who disgraded Holy Quran should be given an exemplrey punishment …………….”
    Firstly, it was not Koran but some other religious instruction book for children. The report says that the girl picked up fragments of the book from trash. How did the book end up as fragments and in the trash? Someone tore the book and threw it in trash and everyone knows and agrees that it was not this girl who did it. She just picked up from the trash. The persons who disrespected the book and committed blasphemy are the muslims who tore the book and threw it in trash as this book on religious instructions was for the muslims and also used only by the muslims.

    Many are saying that the Pakistan’s laws should be amended. What good would it do? Does the currently prevailing laws allow rape of 12 year old girls or forced conversion? The judiciary and CJ not only allow it but also protect and cover it. No one speaks against it. In fact everyone in Pakistan support and promote such acts. Pakistan is an extreme society that preaches and practices barbaric practices. Take any poll on extremism. Over 50% say Shias are not Muslims. Over 99% would say Ahmedis are not muslims and should not have their mosques or read Koran or use Koranic verses. 100% would say that Hindus and Christians are to be treated like animals and that their young girls can be raped at will. All homes in Pakistan have separate plates and glass for serving food and water to non-muslims and non-muslims are not allowed to eat with muslims even in restaurants. Yet they want Hindus, Ahmedis, Shias and Christians to consider themselves as Pakistanis. What would Pakistanis say if in UK, Germany, France or USA these muslims from Pakistan are served in separate plates and in separate areas of a public restaurant. It may very well come in the future. I am singling out muslims of Pakistan and not other muslims. In fact muslims of other countries have started to disassociate themselves from muslims of Pakistan. All these evil practices have been taught systematically right at homes and schools for many decades. Outside world did not know about it so much for many years. With the modern media and papers like ET, these are exposed regularly and world has become aware of what Muslims in Pakistan really are. No law can bring a change, especially when these teachings are done in homes.


  • alicia
    Aug 25, 2012 - 9:04PM

    My head hurts when I imagine an 11 year old girl in PAKISTANI jail accused of BLASPHEMEY. Can’t imagine what must be happening to her even while in lock up.


  • aftab
    Aug 25, 2012 - 10:30PM

    @R Jaffar-ur-Rehman:
    by the way, Rimsha is a non-Muslim in a so-called Islamic nation. my dear, there is no concept of Islamic or muslim nation practically. Remember that. Being a non-Muslim in a so called Islamic nation is not a internal matter of Pakistan, it is matter of human rights violation against universal human rights declaration of United Nations (UN).


  • Yusuf Al-Kafir
    Aug 25, 2012 - 10:52PM


    Pakistan, or any other Muslim country for that matter, did not sign the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

    Muslim countries have their own: it’s called the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights Under Islam.

    These two declarations have very little in common.


  • Awais
    Aug 25, 2012 - 11:01PM

    Stop spreading lies about this issue. The girl is taken into custody to secure her from our illiterate mob (yeah – sorta like the crowd that comes here on ET and comment without any research). If she hadn’t taken into custody, she wouldn’t have been breathing by now.

    This is totally bias reporting by saying “11 year old girl “arrested” for blasphemy”. Educate this illiterate mob (both educated and un-educated) who lack the ability to reason before jumping to bad mouth everything. We are those people who didnt wait a second to kill two innocent boys in Sialkot just because we “heard” that they were robbers. This is hight of “Jahalat”.

    As for Islam – She is innocent per my limited study of the religion!


  • Kenneth Eric
    Aug 25, 2012 - 11:35PM

    Instead of struggling to change this rule, Vatican needs introduce different immigration policies for 2nd class citizens amongst other countries. Yes, we are 2nd class citizens and we don’t want any fight for our rights. We are peaceful people and don’t want to live here anymore.


  • Mandeep Vaid
    Aug 25, 2012 - 11:57PM

    Humans whose thinking, words and actions are not motivated with compassion, love and forgiveness are indeed ignorant and retarded people……..and their societies a reflection of their collective conscious.


  • Parvez
    Aug 26, 2012 - 12:35AM

    Our President and Prime Minister have devised a strategy to deal with cases like this and the strategy is to make a statement and then do nothing……….and it seems to work… least for them………for now.


  • Lauren
    Aug 26, 2012 - 12:59AM

    You’d think that since the girl can’t read or write, and therefore was not aware of what she burned, muslims would just let this go. I guess, because of their hate for non-muslims, they’ll look for any excuse they can find to see to it that a non-muslim dies. You can’t reason with them. Even if a muslim tried to defend the girl, that muslim would likely be punished as well for defending a “kafir”. I wouldn’t put it past them to have a temper tantrum if someone burned a blank sheet of paper and called it a koran.Recommend

  • Aug 26, 2012 - 1:51AM

    @Anna: Whole Pakistani nation is confused, chaotic and under punishment from Allah ,no one is able to think straight.The great religion of profit Mohammad (saw) has been turned upside down on its head. Disastrous situation prevails at present.


  • Sunny
    Aug 26, 2012 - 2:16AM

    Dear frds, I just want to kw that if Quran is the word of GOD than why don’t u leave it with GOD, let GOD deal with it. kill someone who said anything about it? if u are doing it, is that means Quran gives you permission to do so???????????????????.


  • Asok
    Aug 26, 2012 - 7:06AM

    To all those who say “mind your own business. Pakistan will take care of its own”, I have just one question.

    How? Aasia Bibi is still in jail. Despite constant misuse nothing has been done about the blasphemy law.

    Why should anyone have any confidence that Pakistan will solve this problem on its own?


  • Fed up pakistani
    Aug 26, 2012 - 9:17AM

    Pathetic and apparent muslims, pakistanis that carry such orthodox and non islamic mentality should be banished from using the name ‘muslim’. These guys are the dirt that spreads over our religion. She is a christian and a fellow sister in humanity. She is also from the people of the book. A christian is closest to a muslim as described in islam. Where do these guys harbor such ignorance and generate no tolerance…. God bless us all.


  • aftab
    Aug 26, 2012 - 9:46AM

    @Yusuf Al-Kafir:
    Dear Yusuf, to deny that Pakistan is not signatory of United Nation’s Human right declaration would be, perhaps, living in ignorance and being naïve. Pakistan has rectified all Human Rights Chartres, including Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) of UN, and Pakistan is abided to implement these Human Rights Charters in letter and spirit for having rectifying these and being Member State of UN. Please go UN website and see which countries have rectified these human rights charted globally.
    By the way, if you think all Muslim people and countries fall in ‘one nation’ and follow a separate and unique human rights setup, then I would be surprised for one, who is Muslim and Pakistani and still Saudi Arab deny basic rights to him/her including getting of citizenship. Being a Pakistani Muslim you can’t marry a Saudi lady (Arab) by law in the Saudi Arab as well as in other neighboring countries. Is that all Muslims have different human rights , and are separate nation across world?


  • aftab
    Aug 26, 2012 - 9:59AM

    @Yusuf Al-Kafir

    another example of what you mentioned Cairo Declaration of Human Rights Under Islam.

    ’مصری خاتون کو کوڑوں کی سزا رکوائی جائے‘

    ’مصری خاتون کو کوڑوں کی سزا رکوائی جائے‘
    .مصر کی وزارت خارجہ سے کہا گیا ہے کہ وہ سعودی عرب سے مصری خاتون کو پانچ سو کوڑے مارنے کی سزا پر عملدرآمد روکنے کا کہے۔

    مصر کی ریاستی تنظیم نیشنل کونسل آف ویمن نے مصری وزیر خارجہ سے استدعا کی ہے کہ وہ سعودی عرب پر زور دیں کہ وہ ایک مصری خاتون کو دی گئی سزا پر عملدرآمد نہ کرے۔

    انسانی حقوق کے اداروں کے مطابق نجلہ یحیٰ وفا کو دو ہزار نو میں اس وقت گرفتار کیا گیا تھا جب ان کے ایک سعودی شہزادی سے تجارتی اختلافات ہوئے۔

    انہیں پانچ سال قید اور پانچ سو کوڑوں کی سزا دی گئی تھی۔ انسانی حقوق کے اداروں کے مطابق انہیں اب تک تین سو کوڑے مارے جا چکے ہیں۔

    مصری تنظیم نے حکومت پر زور دیا ہے کہ مصری عوام کی ملک کے اندر اور باہر حفاظت کرنا حکومت کی ذمہ داری ہے۔


  • aftab
    Aug 26, 2012 - 10:59AM

    @Yusuf Al-Kafir:
    click link below to see Most of Muslim countries have rectified “Universal Human Rights Declaration” excpet Saudi Arabia; well pakisatn critcized Saudi Arabia for its stance of UHRD


  • aftab
    Aug 26, 2012 - 6:47PM

    Attackers in Libya have bulldozed a mosque containing Sufi Muslim graves in the centre of Tripoli, a day after Sufi shrines in the city of Zlitan were wrecked and a mosque library was burned. News: 26th August, 2012

    Go to below link read the detailed news, watch videos and see pictures.

    I have two questions for readers to ask:

    Is this not blasphemy?? Where these fanatic and extremist mullahs have brunt a library into ashes which was attached to the Mosque, I am sure there would be scripts containing holy narrations as well in that library. Why these mullahs are not calling it blasphemy and demanding for punishment of blasphemy as of Pakistan if all Muslims are one nation.

    Secondly, assume this have had happened in a non-Muslim country by non-Muslims what would have been a reaction of these fanatic mullahs and entire so-called Muslim nation. i remember, Babri mosque incident in India and reaction of Muslim over it. Why this one Muslim nation is silent now over bulldozing a mosque, library and a sufi shrine by fanatic Muslims?


  • A coward Muslim?
    Aug 26, 2012 - 11:02PM

    I am sorry my Christian brothers and sisters, we Muslims have nothing to do with such blasphemy acts. We are a coward majority who can not stand up for our rights and true religion of Islam in front of extremists who are abusing our peaceful religion of Islam. If you were like them you will treat all Muslims in your majority countries in the same manner as we treat you in Pakistan due to our majority. But you are not like us you are far better. You give us all the rights and religious freedom in your countries. We are the weakest and ungrateful nation. If blasphemy carries death punishment then why Allah has said only Shirk can not be forgiven and every other sin can be forgiven by Allah? Why Quran is silent about blasphemy? why there is no historical blasphemy case in our loving prophet Muhammad pbuh life? please stop this bloodshed in the name of Islam. There are so many other ways for you to quench your thirst. Why Islam? a beautiful and peaceful religion of moderate human beings which is full of kindness and love. Please stop this non sense it is too much. Allah is watching you for this barbaric and inhuman treatment against His creature.


  • Nasser
    Aug 26, 2012 - 11:03PM

    On an Islamic country would they be threatened by a 11 year old girl – and they wonder why the rest of the world holds them at a distance.


  • Jintoo
    Aug 27, 2012 - 2:20AM

    Agreed with you, would like to see Pervez Musharaff again, i think he had better ideas to fix these fanatic mullahs, haaah!!!!! may be one day.


  • Noor
    Aug 27, 2012 - 11:47AM

    When will you revert to original concept of Universal Muslim brotherhood & get out of the clutches of countries/nations implanted by West just a hundred years ago.


  • syed
    Aug 27, 2012 - 1:51PM

    Why is the vatican concerned? Just because she’s a christian girl! What about the massive murder of people in Burma? Vatican must have enjoyed that


  • Zeeshan Haider
    Aug 28, 2012 - 4:30PM

    [The #Minorities in #Pakistan] Islam is a complete code of life, the Islamic system guarantees and pleads justice for the humanity, the life property ownership and religion of Non-Muslims are given full protection under Islamic statehood, those people who cause any type of torture to the Non-Muslims in a place where Muslims are in majority are totally ignorant of the Islamic teachings. #Islam teaches that all the prophets of Allah and all the religious icons of all the religions must be revered. #Blasphemy law is promulgated for the protection of innocent people who are unjustly accused of blasphemy.


  • Kaspar
    Aug 28, 2012 - 8:25PM

    @R Jaffar-ur-Rehman:
    It is mindset like this that has made Pakistan a laughing stock in the world right now. This case is not only a sign of our extreme intolerance where we have levelled blasphemy charges on an 11-year old girl who cannot even understand what it is all about, but a symptom of the malaise that makes us focus on non-issues rather than try solve the myriad of problems our soceity is suffering from. And after committing blunders like this, we have the audacity to accuse others of ‘interfering’ in our ‘internal affairs.’ What are internal affairs of a country in the contemporary world, my friend? Trampling the rights of individuals anywhere in the world is everyone’s concern these days.
    If we speak for the Muslims of Burma currently facing maltreatment, they can likewise say it is Burma’s internal affair!
    First get to know the details of the case and then coment on it.Recommend

  • adil
    Aug 29, 2012 - 8:49AM

    USA is already punishing [email protected]:


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