Blasphemy suspect: Vatican prelate says Rimsha can’t read

Published: August 26, 2012
French cardinal insists that the ‘offence’ was unintended. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

French cardinal insists that the ‘offence’ was unintended. PHOTO: AFP/FILE


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

Interviewed on Radio Vatican, Tauran, who is in charge of interfaith dialogue in the Vatican, and was also the late pope John Paul II’s foreign minister said, “Before asserting that 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. 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.

Talking to the staff of an Italian newspaper, Tauran said that he believed it was “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.

Under the local blasphemy laws, insulting the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is punishable by death, while burning a sacred text leads to life imprisonment.

Rimsha was to appear in court on Saturday but police and her lawyer said on Friday that the hearing was put back to August 31.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 26th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (8)

  • Bilal
    Aug 26, 2012 - 10:53AM

    This doesn’t matter in pakistan.When we don’t care that she’s an 11 year old child,do u think it’ll matter to us that she can’t read? No,we rather burn alive anyone who criticises our religion,whether they are a young child,mentally challenged or illiterate.In pakistan,we murder people first for religion,than ask why we did it.


  • Arshad Malik
    Aug 26, 2012 - 10:55AM

    A crowd of adult Muslim men beating up a mentally disabled female child,then the police of the Islamic republic of pakistan throwing her in jail.Is this the Religion of Peace?Recommend

  • Wajib
    Aug 26, 2012 - 11:04AM

    Classic case of pot calling the kettle black – who gave Vatican the right to speak about this. Vatican would have had no locus standi to comment on a local matter of a sovereign Islamic nation even if it were a nominally neutral body like HRW or HRCP, but to think that this is the same Vatican which has been deeply involved for centuries in trying to spread christianity in Afghanistan, KP and agencies…just makes me laugh!


  • Saima Anjum
    Aug 26, 2012 - 11:05AM

    Why has the Christian community failed so completely in getting this atrocity highlighted in the international media? Don’t they know how to engage with the international media and get their plight and the cruelty done to them highlighted by the internationa media? Why haven’t CNN,BBC,sky news given extensive and repeated coverage to this?


  • Parvez
    Aug 26, 2012 - 2:53PM

    Her only hope seems to be that other countries preasurise the government to do what is right because by themselves they will not and will use the tried and tested way out of doing nothing untill the matter dies its own death along with the victim in most cases.


  • jack
    Aug 26, 2012 - 7:01PM

    Don’t pakistan have juvinile homes that she’s being sent to prison?Recommend

  • TMay
    Aug 27, 2012 - 1:30AM

    At least one report quoting one of the police said that the Pakistani mobs can’t read Arabic and anytime the mobs see Arabic they assume that it is a religious text, and that it could be a newspaper..

    Regarding the infra structure of Pakistan and countries like it, has anyone checked to see if the pipes carrying water have lead in them?


  • TMay
    Aug 27, 2012 - 2:34AM

    Pursuant to my earlier comment, how about lead paint? Has it been removed in Pakistan and places like Pakistan?

    As Albert Einstein, a famous Jew, once said
    ““Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.”


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