Pakistani Judge Grants Baill to Girl Accused of Blasphemy

Posted September 7th, 2012 at 3:55 am (UTC-5)
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A Pakistani judge has granted bail to a Christian girl accused of blasphemy.

Rimsha Masih was arrested last month in Islamabad after angry neighbors accused her of burning pages from the Quran.

During a hearing on Friday, a judge ordered Masih's release after hearing arguments from lawyers on both sides. She has been in police custody for three weeks.

Last week, police detained a Muslim cleric, Khalid Jadoon, on suspicion that he planted evidence against the girl. The arrest was made after members of his mosque alerted authorities.

Under Pakistan's blasphemy law, anyone who speaks ill of Islam and the Prophet Mohammad commits a crime and faces the death penalty. A medical report says the girl is 14 years old and mentally impaired.

Human-rights activists have called for the girl's immediate release from police custody. Prominent Muslim clerics in Pakistan and the country's president have also called for an impartial probe into her case.

Rights groups say the blasphemy law in Pakistan has been used to harass religious minorities and settle personal scores.

Many Christians living in Masih's neighborhood left the area fearing reprisals from Muslims.

Last year two prominent Pakistani politicians were killed for criticizing the country's blasphemy law.

Christians are the largest non-Muslim religious minority in Pakistan, making up about five percent of the population.