Amnesty Intl: Pakistani Girl Accused of Blaspheming Islam in Serious Danger

Posted September 7th, 2012 at 5:25 pm (UTC-5)
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Amnesty International says a mentally-challenged Christian girl accused of blaspheming Islam in Pakistan is still in serious danger even after a judge ordered her freed from jail.

The human rights group said Friday's decision to grant bail to 14-year-old Rimsha Masih is an encouraging step. But Amnesty says the Pakistani government must urgently reform its blasphemy laws. It says current laws cannot be used to settle disputes or let private citizens take matters into their own hands.

Rimsha spent the last three weeks in jail in Islamabad after neighbors accused her of burning pages from the Quran.

Judge Mohammad Azam Khan gave no reason for his decision. But police arrested a Muslim cleric last week after members of his mosque accused him of planting evidence against the girl. Other Muslim clerics demanded she be freed.

Pakistan's minister for national harmony said the court's decision is a victory for the truth. Rimsha's lawyers argued that the girl has has Down syndrome, which impairs her mental abilities.

Muslim-majority Pakistan has some of the world's toughest penalties against blasphemy. Anyone found guilty of insulting Islam and the Prophet Mohammad faces the death penalty.

Many Christians living in Rimsha's neighborhood fled the area fearing revenge from Muslims.