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Christian Girl Acquitted of Blasphemy

Wednesday, November 21, 2012 (1:29 am)
Posted in: Christian Persecution, Christian Persecution - Asia, Pakistan

By Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN (Worthy News)– A Pakistani court has dismissed blasphemy charges against a Christian girl for allegedly burning pages of the Qu'ran.

However, despite the dismissal, her life may still be at risk from Islamists.

Suffering from Down Syndrome, 14-year-old Rimsha Masih was arrested for defaming Islam after being accused of having a shopping bag containing burned pages of the Qu'ran. Masih was released on bail in September after local Muslims testified against the neighborhood imam, accusing him of framing the girl by planting the burned pages in her bag.

The fate of the imam who burned his own Qu'ran in an attempt to frame Masih and illegally acquire her parent's property is still in question.

More than two months after Masih's release, the Islamabad High Court dismissed the girl's case, acquitting her of all charges since no one had actually seen her burning a Qu'ran. Masih's family has been living at an undisclosed location since her release, but it is unlikely they will ever return home.

"Once you have been accused of blasphemy it means the relocation of your family, even if you are acquitted by the court," the director of a Lahore human rights group told International Christian Concern. "The people who were willing to burn Rimsha alive are now even angrier … There is no way she can go back to the same place."

According to Human Rights First, 46 people charged with blasphemy have been killed either while awaiting trial, or after having been acquitted.

"While ICC welcomes the news of Rimsha's acquittal, the fact is that she should have never been charged or imprisoned in the first place," said Aidan Clay, ICC Regional Manager for the Middle East. "Because of false allegations against Rimsha, she is forced to start a new life in a country that is no longer safe for her. This all occurred as a result of Pakistan's oppressive blasphemy laws that victimize innocent minorities by giving radical Muslims grounds to inflict vigilante justice in accordance to their own religious decrees.

"Many Christians and other minorities still languish in Pakistani prisons on charges of insulting Islam, including Asia Bibi, who was given the death sentence in 2010 for allegedly criticizing Muhammad. This battle will not be won until the Pakistani government repeals the country's ominous blasphemy laws. No one should fear being imprisoned, or executed by their government, or murdered by a mob simply because they are a member of a minority religious community."

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