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ICC Note:
On Saturday, August 17, a Muslim cleric who falsely accused a 14-year-old girl of blasphemy has been acquitted by a court in Islamabad, Pakistan. Khalid Jadoon Chishti was accused of falsely accusing Rimsha Masih of blasphemy last summer when he added pages of the Quran to a pile of ashes near the Christian girl’s home. Christian lawyers in Pakistan say they are disappointed in the decision of the court, especially because several Christians remain imprisoned due to false blasphemy accusations. Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy laws is often abused to settle scores and vendettas. Christians disproportionally bear the brunt of these false accusation, which can be the prelude to mob violence against entire Christian communities.  
8/21/2013 Pakistan (BosNewsLife) – A leading rights lawyer says he is “disappointed” that a Muslim cleric who  “falsely” accused a Christian girl of blasphemy has been released, while several Christians remain in Pakistani jails for allegedly hurting Islamic feelings.
“We were disappointed about the judgment of the [Islamabad] court in the case of Khalid Jadoon Chishti. He tempered the evidence by adding Koranic pages into ashes [to blame the girl] Rimsha Masih of blasphemy,” said lawyer Sardar Mushtaq Gill, director of the Legal Evangelical Association Development group.
Masih, 14, was detained in August 2012 and spent three weeks in one of Pakistan’s toughest jails, but the case against her was eventually quashed amid international pressure.
She moved to Canada, after the clerk himself was accused of “desecrating the Koran” and “tampering with evidence” against Rimsha.
Yet on Saturday, August 17, the court acquitted Chishti of all charges “as six out of eight eyewitnesses retracted their statements,” complained Gill, who closely followed the case.
At the same time Asia Bibi, a Christian mother of five, “remains in prison after being sentenced to death in November 2010 after other women claimed she made derogatory remarks about the Prophet Mohammed,” he said.
Additionally Sawan Masih, a 35-year-old Pakistani street sweeper, was “falsely accused of blasphemy by a close friend.” He has been in a jail in Lahore, the capital of Punjab province, since March this year and “is now awaiting justice in his release,” Gill told BosNewsLife.
“I believe he could be released on bail as the arguments from the prosecution are very weak,” he said in an interview with BosNewsLife Tuesday, August 20.
The cases have added concerns about controversial blasphemy legislation in Pakistan, said Gill, who himself is in hiding following death threats from Islamic militants.
“In 2011, politicians Salmaan Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti were assassinated for demanding that the blasphemy law be reformed. This demand still continues by Pakistani Christians and other minority groups,” he told BosNewsLife.
“An accusation of blasphemy commonly subjects the accused and even police, lawyers, and judges to harassment, threats,attacks and extra judicial killings,” Gill noted.
Such allegations are “sometimes the prelude to vigilantism and rioting as it happened in Gojra and Lahore” where churches and homes have been destroyed and Christians killed in deadly violence.
“Those who are accused of blasphemy including their family members have to face many hardships and to move from one place to another for their safety,” said Gill, who has been defending Christians.
He claimed that the threats can continue “not for years but even for a whole life.”

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