A prominent American Muslim body has slammed the arrest of an 11-year-old girl in Pakistan on blasphemy charges and demanded her immediate release.
The girl, identified as Rimsha Masih, is reported to have down's syndrome. She faces the death penalty for allegedly burning pages with verses from the Quran.
"It is imperative that the government of Pakistan immediately release Rimsha Masih and ensure her safety and that of her family and their community. The arrest of such a young person, especially if she has a mental disability, is a serious violation of Islamic principles," Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said.
Human rights violations like this must be condemned and challenged not only because of their great injustice against vulnerable people, but also because they are falsely committed in the name of Islam, CAIR said.
"It is reported that an angry mob played a role in inciting this arrest, and we ask Pakistani officials to investigate those circumstances. The reports of media and human rights organizations depict actions by local officials and extremist leaders that are unjust and contradictory to Islamic teachings," CAIR said.
In this incident it is not the girl who violated Islam's teachings but the extremists who seem to have fueled this unfounded anger, it said.
"We recognise that President (Asif Ali) Zardari has ordered local officials to explain the arrest, but we urge more concrete actions to protect minorities and other vulnerable members of society," CAIR said.