Some interesting developments in the case of Rimsha Masih, the 13-year old mentally handicapped Pakistani girl currently under arrest for violating that country’s blasphemy law. Masih is in custody on charges that she burned pages from a Quran; as a result of threatened reprisals, 900 of her fellow Christians have fled their neighborhood outside the capital of Islamabad. Yesterday, Pakistani police arrested one of the Masih’s  main accusers, a mullah named Hafiz Mohammed Khalid Chishti, on charges that he framed the girl by placing pages from a Quran in a trash bag she was carrying. Two of the mullah’s assistants have come forward to say that Chishti did this in order to drive Christians from the neighborhood, where Muslims wish to build a madrasa. Today, one of Pakistan’s senior Muslim clerics intervened in the controversy, condemning Chishiti and the plot to drive out Christians and personally guaranteeing the safety of Masih if she is released from prison.  The Guardian (why is the  American news media ignoring this story?) reports that the support for Masih “from the chairman of the All Pakistan Ulema Council, a grouping of Islamic clerics, is being seen as a remarkable turn of events in a country where individuals accused of insulting Islam are almost never helped by powerful public figures.” Last year, a regional governor and cabinet minister were assassinated after they publicly criticized the country’s blasphemy law.

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