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Christian Girl Accused Of Blasphemy Cleared By Pakistani Court

Rimsha Masih, the young Christian Pakistani girl whose arrest earlier this year drew international attention, has been cleared of the blasphemy charge against her.

According to NPR's Jackie Northam, who is in Islamabad, Pakistan's High Court today threw out the charge against Rimsha because there was no hard evidence that she ever burned pages of the Quran, as neighbors had charged.

According to Pakistan's Dawn newspaper, since Rimsha's arrest police have "told the courts that she was not guilty and that a cleric who allegedly framed her should face trial instead." Jackie reports that the cleric has been arrested for allegedly planting evidence and is out on bail while awaiting trial.

As we've previously reported:

Rimsha has what some news outlets have described as Down Syndrome while others refer to her as "mentally impared." Her age has been reported as being as young as 11 and as old as 16. ... It's not clear that she knew what she allegedly burned — or even that she did what she's accused of. There have been reports that the accusations may have been motivated by some neighbors' desire to push a small community of Christians out of an Islamabad slum. Protests in the slum following the accusations against Rimsha led the Christians to go into hiding.

Dawn adds that "Rimsha and her family, who have been in fear for their lives since the allegations, were moved to an undisclosed location after her release on bail on Sept. 8." Their home and those of other Christians were attacked after her arrest.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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