Girl charged with blasphemy freed

Girl charged with blasphemy freed

A Christian girl accused of blasphemy in Pakistan was on Saturday released on bail after more than three weeks in jail, officials said, in a case that has sparked an international outcry.

Rimsha Masih was arrested on August 16 for allegedly burning pages containing verses from the Quran but was released from a prison in Rawalpindi after a court on Friday accepted her bail application.

Paul Bhatti, Pakistan’s minister for national harmony, told AFP that Rimsha was flown by helicopter to be reunited with her family.

“She has been freed from the jail and was transported by a helicopter to a safe place. Her family members received her,” he said. Pakistan private TV channels broadcast footage of the girl wearing a traditional baggy green shirt and dark green trousers stepping out of an armoured vehicle and sitting in a helicopter.

Rimsha’s lawyer, Tahir Naveed Chaudhry, confirmed her release after two guarantors submitted a surety bond guaranteeing that the girl would reappear before court at the court’s choosing.

Under Pakistan’s strict blasphemy laws, insulting the prophet Mohammed is punishable by death and burning a sacred text, by life imprisonment.

Blasphemy is a very sensitive subject in Pakistan, where 97 per cent of the 180 million population are Muslims, and allegations of insulting Islam or the prophet Mohammed often prompt a furious public reaction.

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