Protests were held all over Pakistan ahead of today's ruling
A Christian girl detained for three weeks on controversial blasphemy charges has been released on bail.
Rawalpindi District Court today granted bail set at 500,000 rupees (US$5,282) bail to 14-year-old Rimsha Masih, who was accused of burning pages of the Qu’ran.
Her release follows the arrest of her accuser, the imam of a mosque near her home in Islamabad, who allegedly added Quranic pages to a bag containing the pages she allegedly burned, to strengthen the evidence against her.
The case against her has drawn widespread international condemnation.
“It’s a big achievement and will boost public trust in the judiciary of this country. This is the first time a false accuser has been arrested. We thank clerics, media and the nation for supporting the cause,” her lawyer Tahir Naveed Chaudhry said after the court hearing.
However the central executive committee member of the All Pakistan Minority Alliance, a Christian political party, said there were still fears for Rimsha’s safety.
“An accused usually leaves the city after being charged with such serious allegations [especially ones] which deal with religious sentiments," he said.
"Even judges and lawyers face threats. Likewise we shall move the family to a safe location.”
A senior Catholic official welcomed her release but said Rimsha had been treated unfairly and the court could have been kinder regarding bail conditions.
“It was not a sympathetic decision as the judge set bail so high for a poor family,” said Peter Jacob, executive secretary of the Catholic Church’s National Commission for Justice and Peace.
“The investigation was prolonged and juvenile laws were not followed, although a medical board did confirm her as a minor,” he said.
“We are happy the child is now united with her family but are hurt by the attitude of the court. The case has exposed inherent problems with the blasphemy laws, the mindset of society and the callousness of the judicial system.”
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