Pakistan blasphemy girl in dramatic prison release by helicopter

Sat Sep 8, 2012 12:10pm EDT

1 of 2. Security officials surrounding Rimsha Masih, (C, green scarf) a Christian girl accused of blasphemy, move her to a helicopter after her release from Adyala jail in Rawalpindi September 8, 2012. A Pakistani military helicopter plucked a young Christian girl accused of blasphemy from a prison yard on Saturday and flew her to a secret location after she was granted bail. Live broadcasts showed heavily-armed police surrounding Rimsha Masih, believed to be no older than 14, covering her face with a green scarf as she walked to the helicopter.

Credit: Reuters/Stringer

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(Reuters) - A Pakistani military helicopter plucked a young Christian girl accused of blasphemy from a prison yard on Saturday and flew her to a secret location after she was granted bail.

Live broadcasts showed heavily-armed police surrounding Rimsha Masih, believed to be no older than 14, covering her face with a green scarf as she walked to the helicopter.

A judge granted Masih bail on Friday and her lawyers are applying to have charges that she burned pages from the Koran dismissed after a local cleric was detained on suspicion of planting false evidence to stir resentment against Christians.

Even before that arrest, Masih's case provoked international concern as she could face execution under Pakistan's blasphemy law despite her young age and reported mental problems.

The dramatic nature of Masih's release underlined the fear for her life.

The lawyer prosecuting her suggested she could be lynched if found not guilty. Blasphemy charges are frequently followed by deadly riots against minority communities.

Despite international condemnation, the blasphemy law still enjoys widespread support among ordinary Pakistanis.

Two high-ranking government officials who had suggested its reform were shot dead, one by his own bodyguard. Lawyers threw rose petals at that killer and the judge who convicted him was forced to flee the country.

The number of cases brought under the law is rising rapidly and rights groups fear it is mostly being used to settle personal vendettas.

Since 1987, there have been almost 250 blasphemy cases, according to Pakistani thinktank the Center for Research and Security Studies.

It said 52 people had been killed after being accused of blasphemy since 1990.

(Reporting By Katharine Houreld; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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Comments (3)
Naksuthin wrote:
This should be a warning of what can happen when government and religion blur the separation of church and state.
Whenever religious zealots gain political power they push for recognition of their religion as the “only true religion” the next logical step is to start forcing others to follow their way of life.
The Christian evangelical movement is no exception. With a lot of political clout their goal is to force their view of abortion, drinking, smoking pot, prostitution, decent speech, modest dress, stem cell research, teaching evolution,on the rest of Americans whether they are Christians or not.
Their argument is that this is a nation “founded on Christian principles”
Since Evangelicals believe they worship the “only true God”, that all other religions are false with false teachings, and that they have the only “right” answer when it comes to social and moral practices, it’s no wonder many are referring to them as the “Christian Taliban” movement.

Sep 08, 2012 12:42pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Naksuthin wrote:
This should be a warning of what can happen when government and religion blur the separation of church and state.
Whenever religious zealots gain political power they push for recognition of their religion as the “only true religion” the next logical step is to start forcing others to follow their way of life.
The Christian evangelical movement is no exception. With a lot of political clout their goal is to force their view of abortion, drinking, smoking pot, prostitution, decent speech, modest dress, stem cell research, teaching evolution,on the rest of Americans whether they are Christians or not.
Their argument is that this is a nation “founded on Christian principles”
Since Evangelicals believe they worship the “only true God”, that all other religions are false with false teachings, and that they have the only “right” answer when it comes to social and moral practices, it’s no wonder many are referring to them as the “Christian Taliban” movement.

Sep 08, 2012 12:42pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
kafantaris wrote:
Seeing the pious Pakistanis enforce antiquated blasphemy laws in the 21st century should give us pause.
Reflecting that the same Pakistanis have threatened to use their country’s nuclear bomb on their populous neighbor should interrupt our sleep.
Why then are we preoccupied only with the prospect of a nuclear Iran?

Sep 08, 2012 5:04pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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