ISLAMABAD – A Pakistani court on Tuesday acquitted a Christian girl accused of blasphemy over the burning of the Muslim holy book, her lawyer said.
The ruling was the final chapter in a case that caused an international outcry over Pakistan’s strict blasphemy laws, which are very popular in the country and are primarily used against supposed offenses to Islam.
In August, the young Christian girl was arrested in Islamabad after a Muslim cleric accused her of desecrating the Muslim holy book, the Quran. The cleric was later accused of fabricating evidence against the girl, whose mental capacity was subsequently questioned.
Attorney Abdul Hameed said the court on Tuesday exonerated his client for lack of evidence and dismissed all charges against her, concluding they were based on heresy and incriminated material that was planted in the girl’s possession.
“I am happy that the poor girl’s ordeal is now over,” he told The Associated Press after hearing the court ruling in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad.
FULL ARTICLE FROM THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER
WASHINGTON (BP) — Muslim clerics and scholars — including representatives of radical groups — have voiced support for a Pakistani Christian girl accused of blasphemy. An official medical review, meanwhile, has revealed she has mental difficulties.
According to media reports, the All Pakistan Ulema Council, an organization of Muslim clerics and scholars, denounced the climate of fear and vigilantism surrounding Rimsha Masih, who was accused of blasphemy for burning religious texts and then arrested when an irate mob demanded action. The facts of the case — including what the young girl burned while cleaning — are in doubt, and some media reports say she has Down syndrome.
“The law of the jungle is taking over now and anybody can be accused of anything,” Allama Tahir Ashrafi, chair of the council, told the BBC.
He called on the government to impartially investigate the accusations and punish the accusers if they falsely pointed the finger, according to Toronto’s Globe and Mail.
“We see Rimsha as a test case for Pakistan’s Muslims, Pakistan’s minorities and for the government,” Ashrafi told a news conference in Islamabad, according to the McClatchy news service. “We don’t want to see injustice done with anyone. We will work to end this climate of fear. The accusers should be proceeded against with full force, so that no one would dare make spurious allegations.”
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KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Authorities here said they will likely repatriate a Saudi Arabian writer who fled Saudi Arabiaamid calls for him to be executed after he posted Twitter messages considered insulting to the Prophet Muhammad, Malaysian authorities said Friday.
Malaysian police detained the writer, Hamza Kashgari, a 23-year-old columnist for the Jeddah-based Al Bilad newspaper, when he arrived at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Thursday, Hishammuddin Hussein, the Malaysian Minister of Home Affairs, said in a statement.
“The police have contacted their counterpart in Saudi Arabia to determine the next course of action,” Mr. Hussein said.
Rights groups have expressed concern about Mr. Kashgari’s safety after religious conservatives in Saudi Arabia called for him to be arrested and executed after he directly addressed the Prophet Muhammad in a series of posts on Twitter. Amnesty International called for Malaysia not to deport Mr. Kashgari, to immediately disclose where he is being held and to grant him access to a lawyer.
FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES