Pakistan Releases Girl Accused Of Blasphemy

Pakistan has released a Christian girl who was accused of desecrating the Qur’an from an Islamabad-area jail, according to an official.

Rimsha Masih’s release comes one day after a judge granted her bail in a cause where the 14-year-old was accused of blasphemy by a neighbor last month, reports The Guardian.

The girl left the prison in Rawalpindi, a garrison city near Islamabad, on Saturday afternoon, according to Mushtaq Asan. Rimsha has been held for the crime for a little more than three weeks.

An AP reporter was present for her release, where she was taken from the prison in an armored car to a waiting helicopter, covered with a sheet to protect her identity.

The 14-year-old girl’s lawyers will now be pushing for her case to be thrown out completely. The teen’s defenders have said that the girl is mentally disabled.

She is the first person to ever win bail in a blasphemy case, mainly because witnesses came forward this week to say that the girl was framed by the head of the local mosque in the neighborhood where a Christian minority live.

The Washington Post notes that the mullah was accused of framing Rimsha Masih by his own deputies, who say that he added pages torn from the Qur’an to a plastic bag of burned items that Rimsha was seen carrying near her home on August 16. After the allegations, the girl’s house was surrounded by hundreds of angry Muslims.

The mullah has been arrested, but denies the allegation that he planted the evidence to push Christians out of the neighborhood. He is being accused of blasphemy himself for tearing pages from the Qur’an.

The tight security present at the girl’s release is a sign of how seriously authorities are taking her safety. Previous attacks on people accused of blasphemy have resulted in death. Two prominent politicians were killed last year after they suggested the blasphemy laws should be amended, and a man in central Pakistan was beaten to death in July after he was accused of blasphemy.

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