Sep 8 2012
Dramatic military helicopter rescue for Pakistani Christian girl granted bail after evidence was produced that she was falsely accused of blasphemy
With her face shrouded in a green blanket, Rimsha Masih, the 14-year-old mentally-handicapped Pakistani Christian girl, who was framed and wrongly accused of blasphemy by a local mullah, was whisked to a waiting helicopter and flown to a secret location because her Muslim neighbors threatened to hang her if she was found not guilty of burning pages of a quran.
RT 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.
She was originally detained on August 16 after an angry mob surrounded her house amid accusations she had burned pages from the Koran, a crime punishable by death or life imprisonment. But in a dramatic turn of events, police arrested Hafiz Mohammed Khalid Chishti, the imam from the slum neighborhood in Islamabad where Masih resided, after a local parishioner accused the cleric of planting charred pages from the religious text on the girl’s person.
The cleric has been accused of attempting to permanently drive several hundred Christian families from the neighborhood and is now facing blasphemy charges himself. Whatever the result, Mahdi’s parents are said to have fled their home along with other Christian residents, fearing reprisal in a religiously fanatical country.
Amidst this climate of fear, the prosecutor warned Masih could be beaten to death as acquittals in blasphemy cases often sparked riots and reprisals.
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.