By BosNewsLife Asia Service with reporting by BosNewsLife’s Stefan J. Bos
ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN (BosNewsLife)– A 14-year-old mentally-challenged Christian girl accused of blaspheming Islam was released from a notorious prison near the capital Islamabad Saturday, September 8, and flown to an unknown location, an advocacy official involved in her case told BosNewsLife.
“She will not go back to the same Islamabad slum area where she came from because of security concerns,” confirmed Farrukh H. Saif, executive director of Pakistan-based rights group World Vision In Progress (WVIP).
Video footage seen by BosNewsLife showed heavily armed Pakistani security forces escorting Rimsha Masih, who had her face covered, to an awaiting helicopter.
Saif said his group is investigating media reports that that she has been taken to the women department of Islamabad police headquarters following her release on bail from Adiala Jail.
(Watch here the latest footage from Express News television. Story continues after this)
Pakistan’s Minister for National Harmony, Paul Bhatti, did not elaborate, saying only that was flown “to a safe place” and reunited with her family.
It came a day after an Islamabad court ordered Rimsha’s release on bail of one million Pakistani rupees ($10,600), Saif said. Tables already turned earlier this week when an imam who accused the girl of burning pages with Koran verses, was himself detained on charges of blasphemy, which can carry the death sentence.
Imam Hafiz Mohammed Khalid Chisht allegedly stashed Koranic papers in the girl‘s bag to ensure her conviction and push out Christians from the area, charges he strongly denied. The Koran is deemed a holy book by Muslims.
Pakistan had come under international pressure to release the girl. BosNewsLife obtained a copy of a medical report, saying she is mentally impaired. Saif said she would not have been able to burn or even read the Koran.
WVIP and human rights group Amnesty International said that while they welcome her relase, Rimsha is still in serious danger even after a judge ordered her freed.
Amnesty said the Pakistani government must urgently reform its blasphemy laws amid concerns the current legislation is often used to settle disputes or let private citizens take matters into their own hands.
Minority Christians have been detained across Pakistan on blasphemy charges. Saif said he remains worried about 300 Christian families who he claimed are afraid to return to their homes in Islamabad’s colony of Meherabadi where the girl lived.
Angry Muslim mobs reportedly torched several Christian homes and attacked at least one church in the area, following last month’s detention of the girl on charges of blasphemy against Islam.