September 7, 2012
Surprise Twist in Pakistan Blasphemy Case: Rimsha Masih Granted Bail, Imam Arrested
Local cleric who led charge against 14-year-old, now freed on bail, accused of falsifying evidence.
Paul Bhatti, a leading Christian politician, expressed "joy and satisfaction" because "justice has been done," and has proposed an interfaith council to reduce the abuse of Pakistan's controversial blasphemy laws. However, he noted that the problem remains of hundreds of Christian families who fled Masih's neighborhood to avoid retaliatory violence.
Witnesses from Masih's village said they saw local imam Khalid Jadoon Chishti plant pages from the Qur'an in Masih's bag, which already contained burned papers. Chishti is charged with the same crime as Masih: desecrating the Qur'an.
Chishti's arrest is unprecedented in blasphemy law cases. Deputy mosque leader Hafiz Zubair testified against the cleric in court on Saturday, saying the imam added pages to the girl's bag when her accuser brought it into the mosque.
“I asked why he was fabricating the evidence. He said this would ensure a strong case against the girl and would ultimately help them in evicting the Christians from the locality,” said Zubair.
CT previously reported on the case against Masih last week.