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Persecution

Pakistani girl’s blasphemy case may be historic first

Charlie Butts   (OneNewsNow.com) Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The future is uncertain for a 14-year-old Christian girl in Pakistan. That's in spite of the fact that charges of blasphemy have been dropped.

The girl, who has the mental capacity of a younger child, was accused of desecrating the Koran, although four Muslims later stepped forward testifying that the burned pages were planted on the girl by an Islamic cleric.

Attorney Abdul Hameed says Tuesday's order exonerated his client for lack of evidence and dismissed the blasphemy charges against her, concluding they were based on material that was planted in the girl's possession. Katrina Lantos Swett, who chairs the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, called the exoneration "encouraging" but expressed concern that the girl and her family could still be at risk of attack by angry mobs. 

Jerry Dykstra with Open Doors USA tells OneNewsNow that even after the charges have been dropped, the girl's life will never be the same.

"She was in jail for a couple weeks and then she was released," he says. "However, because of threats against her family, they had put her into a special place in hiding in Pakistan."

According to Dykstra, she will never be able to return to her village outside of Islamabad. Other Christians have also been affected, as Dykstra explains: "Many Christians in that village also were threatened and have been forced to move."

Nonetheless, the girl may have made history with her case.

"According to what we know, this is the first time under the strict blasphemy laws in Pakistan that somebody has had a case that has been dropped," Dykstra indicates.

The case caused an international outcry over Pakistan's strict blasphemy laws, which carry life in prison or the death sentence.

Open Doors believes international pressure played a part in getting the case successfully resolved, but Dykstra urges Americans not to forget other persecuted Christians in Pakistan. One case in particular is Asia Bibi, who has been in prison over three years under the death penalty for blasphemy.

Asociated Press contributed to this story

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