Pakistan Christian Girl Held, Accused of Blasphemy

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistani authorities have arrested a young Christian girl after hundreds of furious neighbors gathered outside her house and accused her of violating the country’s strict blasphemy laws by burning pages of the Muslim holy book, police and neighbors said Monday. The girl’s age was not immediately clear, with reports ranging from 11 to 16, and some have raised the possibility she might be mentally handicapped.

Under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, anyone found guilty of insulting Islam’s Prophet Muhammad or defiling the holy book, or Quran, can face life in prison or even execution. The laws have been an ongoing source of controversy even though those convicted are rarely executed. Rising extremism in the country often means religious minorities live in fear of persecution and accusations of blasphemy.

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