Agence France-Press published a succinct recap of what happened:
A Christian girl with Down's Syndrome has been arrested on blasphemy charges in Pakistan, accused of burning pages inscribed with verses from the Koran, police and activists said on Sunday [Aug. 19].
Police arrested Rimsha . . . on Thursday after she was reported holding in public burnt pages which had Islamic text and Koranic verses on them, a police official told AFP.
According to the New York Times in a report published Monday, Aug. 20:
Malik Amjad, landlord of the family’s rented house, said the controversy started early last week after his nephew saw [the girl] holding a burned copy of the Noorani Qaida. The nephew informed a local cleric, Khalid Jadoon, Mr. Amjad said.
. . . Mr. Amjad said the incident bothered few local residents initially and caught fire only at the instigation of the cleric and two conservative shopkeepers.
On Aug. 22, the Washington Post published an account that does a good job capturing just how difficult it was to get at the truth:
The incident involving the girl happened Thursday afternoon, evidently while she was gathering trash — but beyond that, everything is in dispute. Some locals claim to have witnessed her and her mother burning the entire Koran.
But Tahir Muhammad, a 30-year-old shop owner and landlord, said the girl found just one page of the holy book while cleaning a house, mixed it with other papers and burned it.
A 10-year-old neighborhood girl said she saw the whole thing and took the ashes to the mosque — with no pages of the Koran extant. In interviews Sunday, two men at the mosque said that only ashes remained and that the imam mixed in some pages himself before turning over the “evidence” to police.
The girl was arrested and jailed after angry crowds threatened to burn Christian homes in the area, the BBC reported. Some sources, cited anonymously by the Pakistani newspaper Dawn, wanted to set her on fire.
After an initial court appearance, she was held in detention, a move police said they made to protect the girl from the mob. Hundreds of Christians who live in the sector of the city fled to other homes around Islamabad to avoid being caught up in Islamic indigation. Zeenews.com, an Indian website, reported that angry Muslims beat the girl's parents, and have burned several Christian homes in the area. Some reports say her parents have been placed in protective custody as well.
Click here to see a comprehensive list of news reports about the the arrest and its aftermath.