Pakistan dismisses blasphemy case against Christian girl

ISLAMABAD Tue Nov 20, 2012 1:09pm IST

Security officials surrounding Rimsha Masih, (C, green scarf) a Christian girl accused of blasphemy, move her to a helicopter after her release from Adyala jail in Rawalpindi September 8, 2012.REUTERS/Stringer

Security officials surrounding Rimsha Masih, (C, green scarf) a Christian girl accused of blasphemy, move her to a helicopter after her release from Adyala jail in Rawalpindi September 8, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Stringer

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - A Pakistani court dismissed on Tuesday a blasphemy case against a Christian girl which had drawn international condemnation and concern about the rights of religious minorities in the predominantly Muslim country.

Rimsha Masih, believed to be no older than 14, was charged with burning pages of the Koran in August but was granted bail in September after a cleric was detained on suspicion of planting evidence to stir up resentment against Christians.

Masih's lawyer, Tahir Naveed, said the Islamabad High Court's decision to throw out the case was based on the fact that no one had seen her burning pages of the Koran.

The case provoked international concern and she could, in theory, have faced execution under Pakistan's blasphemy law despite her age and reported mental problems.

Muslims consider the Koran the literal word of God and treat each book with deep reverence. Desecration is considered one of the worst forms of blasphemy.

The blasphemy law enjoys widespread support among ordinary Pakistanis even though critics say it is often abused by people involved in disputes or against members of religious minorities.

Over the past two years, two senior government officials who had suggested reform of the law were shot dead, one by his own bodyguard. Lawyers threw rose petals at the killer and the judge who convicted him was forced to flee the country.

The number of blasphemy cases brought under the law is rising. Since 1987, there have been almost 250 cases, according to the Center for Research and Security Studies think-tank.

Convictions are common, although the death sentence has never been carried out. Most convictions are thrown out on appeal but mobs often take the law into their own hands.

The think-tank said 52 people had been killed after being accused of blasphemy since 1990. (Reporting by Mubasher Bukhari; Editing by Robert Birsel)

FILED UNDER:

Fast-tracking Projects

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Oil Prices

Oil Prices

Oil resumes slide after brief rebound on short-covering.  Full Article 

Space Programme

Space Programme

ISRO tests its heaviest space launch vehicle, eyes global market   Full Article 

Coal India Strike

Coal India Strike

Coal India workers threaten five-day strike, stokes output worries  Full Article 

Gold Discount

Gold Discount

Dealers offer gold discount for first time in five months  Full Article 

Lakhvi Granted Bail

Lakhvi Granted Bail

Pakistan court bails man accused of masterminding Mumbai attack  Full Article 

GST Bill

GST Bill

Cabinet clears bill for nationwide goods and services tax.  Full Article 

Aviation Sector

Aviation Sector

Breakingviews: SpiceJet rescue is no fix for India aviation woes.  Full Article 

Global Economy

Global Economy

Fed confident on U.S. growth, opens door wider to rate hike.  Full Article 

Reuters Poll

Reuters Poll

BSE Sensex to hit 32,980 by December 2015  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage