An 11 year old girl, Rifta Masih, with Down Syndrome could face the death penalty in Pakistan for alleged blasphemy. Mehdi Hasan reported in Huffington Post that the child was arrested for burning pages from the Quran. The police say she was arrested for her own safety as approximately 500 people gathered outside her home in outrage.

This is the legacy of General Zia Ul Haq who brought in these laws in the 1980’s to wage war in Afghanistan and to take a harder stance against India. It is not a divine-mandate, as seen by some Pakistanis.

The arrest has caused a stir and celebrities such as Imran Khan have made public pledges (putting their own lives at risk) to free the child, to provide her with help and care rather than kill her. What makes people want to murder those who speak against their religion?

Medhi’s article condemns the arrest and seeks a moral high ground over religious extremism. His frustration and exasperation are clear. “What is behind such rage and, dare I add, insecurity? Is their God so weak, so sensitive, so precious, that He cannot withstand any rejection?” he asks.

For me, religion for persecution is a weak and irrational weapon. Abide or be punished leaves people with little choice. But I guess that is the point. You don’t have a choice. How is this any different to Hilter’s Germany or Stalin’s Russia? Race supremacy, political supremacy and religious supremacy. All dictatorial.

I dread to think what will happen to Rifta. I hope she survives this.




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