3 Sep 2012

Imam held in Pakistani blasphemy case

5:15 am on 3 September 2012

The authorities in Pakistan have arrested an imam who had accused a Christian girl of blasphemy.

The arrest was made after a witness told magistrates he had seen the imam, Khalid Chishti, planting pages from the Koran in a shopping bag containing burned paper and ash that had been carried by the girl.

The BBC reports she was later accused of burning pages of the Koran - a serious offence in Pakistan that can result in imprisonment for life.

The case of the girl, named as Rimsha, who is said to be about 14, has sparked international condemnation.

Earlier this week, a court extended Rimsha's detention at a maximum-security prison by a further two weeks.

Her father has said he fears for his daughter's life and for the safety of his family. He has called on Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari to pardon her.

Rimsha's parents have been taken into protective custody following threats, and many other Christian families have fled the neighbourhood.