Pakistani Christian girl accused of blasphemy released after bail

The young girl’s plight draws new attention to Pakistan’s harsh blasphemy laws, which many believe are used to persecute minorities, settle personal vendettas or for grabbing of land owned by Pakistan’s religious minorities.
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MORALITY TAKES A STAND AGAINST BLIND FUNDAMENTALISM

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WoP Reporting Desk

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The judge hearing the case of Rimsha Masih, a young, mentally challenged Pakistani Christian girl accused of burning an Islamic textbook, ordered Friday that she be released on bail, setting the bond at 1 million rupees, or about $10,500.

However, not only will Masih’s impoverished family likely need financial help posting the bail, but many believe that once released, her life may be in danger from those who support the blasphemy charges against her.

[The latest reports indicate that being on bail, the girl has been evacuated from Adiala jail, Rawalpindi and transported under tight security in a helicopter to an unknown destination, this because of the obvious reason that extremists could possibly harm the young girl on her way home].

Meanwhile, the activists demanding the girl’s release, have welcomed the rare decision to grant bail and her release in the blasphemy case.

In other news, the young girl’s plight draws new attention to Pakistan’s harsh blasphemy laws, which many believe are used to persecute minorities, settle personal vendettas or for grabbing of land owned by Pakistan’s religious minorities.

The girl, who medical officials say is 14 years old, was arrested Aug. 16 after an angry mob surrounded her house in the capital, Islamabad, and accused her of burning pages from the Quran, an act punishable by life in prison. Her lawyer has denied the allegation.

The judge’s decision, which was handed down Friday in an Islamabad court, came after a Muslim cleric from her neighborhood was accused of planting evidence to incriminate the girl and could signal that the case will be thrown out entirely.

Police arrested the cleric after a follower from his mosque accused him of stashing pages of Quran in the girl’s bag to make it seem as if she burned them. He allegedly planted the evidence to push Christians out of the neighborhood and is now being investigated for blasphemy himself.

The cleric’s arrest was applauded as a rare occurrence when blasphemy accusers are held responsible for false claims.

“We feel that this is the real victory of truth and law,” said Robinson Asghar, an aide to the Pakistani minister for national harmony.
The judge gave no reason for granting bail. Attorneys for the young girl argued that the accusations against the cleric had raised reasonable doubt about her culpability in the case.
The girl’s lawyers said it would be the responsibility of the government to protect her and her family when she’s released.

“We are really worried about her security,” said Raja Ikram Ameen Minhas, one of her lawyers.

Paul Bhatti, an adviser to the prime minister on interfaith harmony, said it was unlikely that anyone would harm the girl considering the amount of support she’s had, even inside Pakistan.
Unlike previous cases, few Muslim clerics or political leaders have pushed for her prosecution, likely due to the girl’s age and mental state. In fact, a Pakistani association of Muslim clerics has been advocating on her behalf.

But blasphemy is an extremely contentious issue in this country, and people have been known to take the law into their own hands against accused blasphemers. A Pakistani man accused of blasphemy in July was dragged from a police station in the center of the country, beaten to death and his body set on fire.

SEE also: http://therearenosunglasses.wordpress.com/2012/09/02/morality-takes-a-stand-against-blind-fundamentalism-in-pakistan/

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  5. […] Pakistani Christian girl accused of blasphemy released after bailIn “News, Views & Analysis” […]


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