Cleric 'Framed' Girl to Rid Neighborhood of Christians

Hafiz Mohammed Khalid Chishti was taken to court today
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 2, 2012 3:10 PM CDT
Updated Sep 2, 2012 3:34 PM CDT
Pakistani police officers escort blindfolded Muslim cleric Khalid Chishti to appear in court in Islamabad, Pakistan, Sunday, Sept. 2, 2012.   (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)

(Newser) – Witnesses say a cleric in Pakistan accused of planting evidence of blasphemy on a young girl did so because he wanted Christians like her booted from his neighborhood, the Guardian reports. Hafiz Mohammed Khalid Chishti was delivered blindfolded and handcuffed to court in Islamabad today on charges of fabricating evidence—namely, adding Koran pages to a bag of ashes she was carrying. The charge of desecrating Islam's holy book is punishable by death.

"I asked him what he was doing and he said this is the evidence against them and this is how we can get them out from this area," says one witness. Chishti has openly criticized the community of several hundred Christians living in his poor area of Islamabad, and approved when most of them left amid outcry over the girl's charge. A prosecution lawyer still plans to press the case against her, but an activist says Chishti's alleged abuse is historic: "It will set a precedent against anyone else who tries to misuse [the blasphemy] law." (Read more blasphemy stories.)

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