Muslim Clerics Seek to Protect Christian Girl Accused of Blasphemy

The news that Muslim clerics have stood up on behalf of a Christian girl is a major turn from previous practice.  We have seen so much bitterness and brutality in that part of the world.  Now we have voices rising among the Muslim leadership calling for a more civil way of relating to each other in Pakistan.  Great news.  This group of Islamic leaders should be congratulated for their willingness to stand up for a non-Muslim girl accused of blasphemy.  In fact the accusers included a Muslim cleric.

The article appears in the Guardian, by Saeed Shah appeared on 8-27-12.  Some statements in the article:

Islamic leaders in Pakistan on Monday came out in support of a Christian girl with learning difficulties who is being held in prison, in an unprecedented public denunciation of the blasphemy law by hard-line mullahs. 

The All Pakistan Ulema Council, an umbrella group of Muslim clerics and scholars, which includes representatives from fundamentalist groups, joined hands with the Pakistan Interfaith League, which includes Christians, Sikhs and other religions, to call for justice for the girl, Rimsha, who is accused of blasphemy. They also demanded that those making false allegations be punished. 

Tahir Ashrafi, the chairman of the council, warned that the “law of the jungle” was gripping Pakistan … 

She is being held in a maximum security jail, where her lawyer says she is deeply traumatised and begging to be released. Her parents have also been taken into protective custody. “We see the Rimsha as a test case for Pakistan’s Muslims, Pakistan’s minorities and for the government,” Ashrafi said. “We don’t want to see injustice done with anyone. We will work to end this climate of fear.” 

Ashrafi is also part of the leadership of the radical Defence of Pakistan Council, a coalition of Islamic organisations which includes some thinly disguised banned militant groups. The outfit campaigns against western influence and to stop Nato supplies passing through the country to Afghanistan.