Not long ago, Rimsha Masih was a generally unknown 14-year old Christian girl living in Pakistan with a fairly normal life. In the past few weeks, she’s become an international headline, being charged with blasphemy.
CNN got Masih’s first comments since being released, speaking to her by phone. Masih was speaking from an undisclosed location, chosen by Pakistani authorities, where she are her family are being kept to protect her from possible vigilantes.
In August, a neighborhood man accused Masih of burning pages of the the Qur’an. A mob gathered, and then the details get sketchy. She may have been beaten, she may have run away. CNN asked the girl if she burned the Qur’an, and she told them no. When they asked if she was falsely accused, she said yes.
Several outlets, including the Indian Express, have described Masih as mentally challenged. The Express notes that it was rumored the family would be moved out of Pakistan for the time being, but Christian leader Paul Bhatti said the family was still in the country.
While Masih had little to say to CNN, her father said no one in his family would dare disrespect the Qur’an.
“We respect the Quran just like we respect the Bible,” said Mizrak Mashi. “We couldn’t imagine committing blasphemy let alone doing it. Our children would never do this either.”
For her part, Rimsha Masih doesn’t want to leave Pakistan, but she no doubt would like to leave this issue in the past.
“I love Pakistan,” Masih said. “I won’t ever leave my country.”
Her case is still pending, but police have arrested someone in connection with planting the pages she allegedly burned. Under Pakistani law, blasphemy convictions can carry sentences up to life in prison or death.