Pakistan quashes girl's 'blasphemy' case

2012-11-20 15:01
(File, AFP)

(File, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Islamabad - A Pakistan court on Tuesday threw out all charges against a Christian girl accused of blasphemy in a case that drew international condemnation, lawyers said.

Rimsha Masih spent three weeks on remand in an adult jail after she was arrested on 16 August for allegedly burning pages from the Qur'an.

She was released on bail in September and police have since told the courts she was not guilty and that a cleric who allegedly framed her should face trial instead.

"The court has quashed the case, declaring Rimsha innocent," her lawyer Akmal Bhatti said.

Blasphemy is an extremely sensitive issue in Pakistan, where 97% of the population are Muslims, and under the country's penal code insulting the Prophet Muhammad can be punished by death.

Rights activists have urged Pakistan to repeal the legislation, arguing it is often used to settle personal disputes. The issue is so sensitive that even unproven allegations can provoke a violent public response.

Historic decision


Paul Bhatti, the only Christian member of Pakistan's federal cabinet, welcomed the "historic" move from the high court in the capital Islamabad, saying justice had been done.

"It will send out a positive image of Pakistan in the international community that there is justice for all and that society has risen up for justice and tolerance," he said.

He paid tribute to Muslim clerics, members of the media and civil society for also playing a "positive role" in highlighting the injustice done to Rimsha.

"The historic decision will deter people from levelling false accusations against others," he said.

Rimsha and her family, who have been in fear for their lives since the allegations broke, had been moved to an undisclosed location after her release on bail on 8 September.

An official medical report classified her as "uneducated" and 14 years old, but with a mental age younger than her years. Others have said she is as young as 11 and suffers from Down's Syndrome.

Appeal planned

"It was a fake case, so the court has ordered it finished," said defence lawyer, Tahir Naveed Chaudhry.

The prosecution said it would appeal the decision.

"We will definitely challenge the high court order in the Supreme Court," said Rao Abdur Raheem, the lawyer for Rimsha's neighbour Hammad Malik, who filed the original complaint.

Cleric Hafiz Mohammed Khalid Chishti, who gave police burned papers as evidence against her, was detained on 1 September for himself allegedly desecrating the Qur'an and tampering with evidence.

He was also granted bail last month.

On 24 August, Chishti said he thought Rimsha burned the pages deliberately as part of a Christian "conspiracy" to insult Muslims, and demanded action against what he called their "anti-Islam activities" in the impoverished Mehrabad neighbourhood of Islamabad.

International outcry also erupted in November 2010 when a court sentenced Christian mother of five, Asia Bibi, to death after Muslim women claimed she made derogatory remarks about the Prophet Muhammad.

Bibi is still in prison, pending an appeal process through the courts.

Read more on:    pakistan  |  religion
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Travel

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Up to 40% off fashion accessories

Save up to 40% on selected handbags, purses, watches, jewellery and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R2000 on top electronics

Get every day mind bowing savings on top electronics. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

As seen on TV - New book releases at only R199 each

Get mind blowing book savings on new titles. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to 50% on Women’s month treats!

Celebrate the awesome women in your life with awesome treats like beauty products, fashion accessories, bestselling books, electronics and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 60% off - clearance sale!

Save up to 60% on appliances, books, electronics, toys, movies and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Today is a good day to network and share your ideas and thoughts with your colleagues and friends. Information overload is...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.