Pakistan: Blasphemy girl granted bail
Published 07 September 2012
Rimsha Masih, the Christian girl accused of blasphemy in Pakistan, has been granted bail.
According to reports, Judge Muhammad Azam Khan has ordered her release and set bail at 500,000 ruppees (around £3,300).
He also ordered that she be placed under protective custody out of concern for her safety.
Rimsha was placed in a maximum security prison three weeks ago after neighbours accused her of burning papers with Koranic writings on them.
Her principal accuser, Imam Khalid Chishti, was arrested last week on suspicion of planting evidence against Rimsha.
Blasphemy is a crime punishable by death in Pakistan but Christians and other minorities say the laws are being misused to settle personal scores.
The accusation against Rimsha caused her whole family to be taken into police custody and hundreds of Christians reportedly fled the area.
The Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS), which provides free legal aid to persecuted Christians in Pakistan, welcomed the release of Rimsha but remains concerned for her safety and the welfare of the wider Christian community.
It wants to see the Pakistani government take action to stop more unfounded blasphemy charges made against the country's minorities.
Nasir Saeed, CLAAS UK Coordinator commented: "The charge of blasphemy against Rimsha Masih was based on false evidence and this is not an uncommon occurrence in Pakistan. Sadly the blaspemy laws are frequently misused to stir up animosity and hatred towards Christians and even to take their land or property.
"We wish to thank the Pakistani and international press for their keen interest in this story and for bringing it to the world's attention. This has certainly played a part in Rimsha's release. There are, however, many accusations of blasphemy against Christians and other minorities in Pakistan that never make the news headlines and some of these nameless victims pay the price of these unjust laws with their lives.
"Even those who do not fall victim to extra judicial killings face the death penalty or years in prisons where the conditions are terrible. We appeal to the Pakistani government to review these laws with urgency and implement reforms that will bring an end to their misuse and the suffering of minorities."
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