Pakistan: Blasphemy girl released

A Christian girl accused of blasphemy in Pakistan has been released from prison.

Rimsha Masih has spent the last few weeks in a maximum security prison after neighbours in a suburb of Islamabad accused her of burning pages of the Koran.

A court judge ordered her release on Friday and set bail at around $10,500 (£6,200).

An imam who led the charges against her was later arrested on suspicion of planting evidence.

A medical report stated that Rimsha was 14 years old but of a lower mental age.

Christians in Birmingham went ahead with their planned protest on Saturday to demand that all charges against Rimsha are dropped.

Wilson Chowdhry, chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, said the bail release was a "small step towards justice" but noted that she will still have to undergo a full trial unless she is granted asylum in another country.

"I remind you that Rimsha is not exonerated and will stand full trial," he said.

Mr Chowdhry voiced concern about her safety as radicals have in the past attacked and killed Christians accused of blasphemy after they were acquitted or freed.

Last year, the Governor of Punjab Salman Taseer and Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti were both killed after they spoke in favour of reforming the blasphemy laws.

Mr Chowdhry said: "The killing of Governor Taseer illustrates that extra-judicial killings are hard to prevent."

The BPCA has asked the Foreign Office to grant asylum to Rimsha.

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