ISLAMABAD –– The Islamabad High Court ordered police to dismiss blasphemy charges against a Christian Pakistani girl whose arrest and detention drew international condemnation.
The ruling from Chief Justice Iqbal Hammeed ur Rehman Nov. 19 said there was no evidence that Rimsha Masih burned papers from the Quran, reported Pakistan’s Dawn news agency.
“The court has quashed the case, declaring Rimsha innocent,” Akmal Bhatti, the girl’s attorney, told Agence France-Presse.
Rimsha was taken into police custody Aug. 18 after a resident of the area in which the girl and her family lived accused her of burning pages of the Islamic holy book. She was released on bail Sept. 8.
Two weeks after Rimsha was picked up, Khalid Jadoon Chishti, the imam or prayer leader who accused her of burning pages of the Quran, was taken into police custody. According to a police official quoted by the Associated Press, witnesses claim the imam tore pages from a Quran and planted them along with burned pieces of paper in the girl’s bag.
He faces charges of planting evidence and desecrating the Quran used against the girl. The courts have yet to rule in the case.
Rimsha’s parents said she is 11 years old and has Down syndrome; a court-appointed physician reported she was about 14 and is developmentally delayed.
Paul Bhatti, the only Christian member of Pakistan’s federal cabinet, confirmed the high court had dismissed the case.
“I welcome this order. Justice has been done and the law of the land has been upheld by the court,” he told Agence France-Presse.
“It will send out a positive image of Pakistan in the international community that there is justice for all and that society has risen up for justice and intolerance,” he said.
Out of fear for their safety, Rimsha and her family moved to an undisclosed location after the girl’s release.