Blasphemy-accused Pakistani safe in Canada

2013-07-01 12:00

Ottawa - A Christian girl who was accused of burning Islam's holy book in a case that focused international attention on Pakistan's harsh blasphemy laws is now in Canada with her family after spending months in hiding, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said.

The girl was arrested in August in Islamabad after a Muslim cleric accused her of burning the Quran. The cleric was later accused of fabricating evidence, and the girl was acquitted.

Kenney said he'd been following the case and was prompted to act when a Pakistani contact asked him in January whether the family could come to Canada.

"I said absolutely, if they could get her out," Kenney told The Canadian Press on Sunday. "So a number of people did some very dangerous, delicate work to extricate her and her family from Pakistan, and we provided the necessary visas."

The girl's lawyer on Saturday said she was in Canada, but Canada's immigration service at first said privacy concerns prevented them from saying whether she was in the country.

Kenney said he has instructed immigration officials to process their applications for permanent residency under humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

It's rare for Kenney to comment on individual immigration cases, but he said family members gave their consent to have their story made public.

Kenney said he met with the family in Toronto in April, a few weeks after they arrived.

The case received widespread attention in part because of the girl's young age and questions about her mental abilities. An official medical report at the time put her age at 14, although some of her supporters said she was as young as 11.

The Associated Press is withholding the girl's name because it does not generally identify underage suspects.

Even though the case against her was thrown out, people accused of blasphemy in Pakistan are often subject to vigilante justice.

Mobs have been known to attack and kill people accused of blasphemy, and two prominent politicians who have discussed changes to the blasphemy laws have been killed.

  • Pierre Marais Badenhorst - 2013-07-01 12:31

    religion is the root of all evil

      Riad Mahomed - 2013-07-01 16:54

      I beg to defer with you Pierre. I strongly believe that people use religion as an excuse to commit evil for the simply reason, if that was the case, all religious people would commit such evil as well.

  • GB Garratt - 2013-07-01 12:57

    Blasphemy is a victimless crime. And these people who rage about blasphemy must be very, very uncertain in their beliefs and their god must be totally useless if he never does anything to defend his reputation but leaves it to hordes of incredibly obnoxious stupid people. Muslims and fundie Christians are you listening?

  • Mnr Bloubul - 2013-07-01 13:05

    Why does the Muslim Lawyers not protest? They were quick to try to get Obama arrested - soon no Canadian will feel safe from the Brotherhood - luckily the people in Egypt woke up.

      Avremel Niselow - 2013-07-01 13:56

      "Moderates" never protest against extremists, only against those who try to stop the extremists.

      Lanfear Mierin - 2013-07-01 14:11

      @ Avremel - very nicely put, and very true.

      Avremel Niselow - 2013-07-01 14:42


      Riad Mahomed - 2013-07-01 16:34

      Question: Why would someone want to burn the holy scriptures of some other faith that they do not belong to?

      Avremel Niselow - 2013-07-01 16:56

      Good question, maybe she was sick of the violence against Christians in Pakistan.

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