Pakistani Christian Girl, Rimsha Masih, Freed From Jail After Quran Burning Blasphemy Charges

Pakistani Christian Teen Freed After Quran Burning Blasphemy Charges

A Pakistani Christian girl, hounded for burning pages of the Quran, has been freed from a jail near Islamabad, a local official has confirmed.

Rimsha Masih, 14, who is said to have Down's Syndrome, had been accused by a neighbour of blasphemy.

She left Rawalpindi prison, close to the capital, on Saturday afternoon, after having been held there for three weeks according to Mushtaq Awan.

A Pakistani police official and a Christian volunteer escort a young Christian girl accused of blasphemy, towards a helicopter following her release

The Associated Press reported that she was driven to a waiting helicopter with a sheet over her face to protect her identity. Her lawyers now hope the case will be dropped.

She is the first person in country's history to have blasphemy charges dropped.

Police have arrested an imam on suspicion of planting pages of the Quran in a bag full of burnt papers that Rimsha had been carrying.

Khalid Chishti arrived at court last Sunday blindfolded and wearing shackles on his hands, insisting charges against him had been fabricated.

The incident is said to have whipped up anti-Christian feeling, and has sparked a mass exodus of Christian residents of the neighbourhood, with some 600 people reported to have fled.

Christians are believed to make up two to three percent of Pakistan's population of 190 million people, and many face daily discrimination

Rimsha's parents have been taken into hiding, following threats against them.

Vigilante groups have killed individuals accused of blasphemy in the past, including a case in Punjab when a suspect was dragged from a police station and set alight.

In March 2011 Shahbaz Bhatti, the minister for minority affairs, and Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, were both killed after calling for the repeal of the blasphemy law.


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