Rimsha Masih (screenshot)
The court appeal of Rimsha Masih, a 14 year old Christian girl with learning difficulties accused of blasphemy has been postponed to 17 October - much to the concern of her supporters.
No evidence has been filed against her, but three out four witnesses who came forward and accused an Imam of planting evidence that incriminated her, have now all retracted their testimonies, claiming police had forced them to lie.
Rimsha was arrested and kept in an adult prison for more than three weeks when the local Imam accused her of tearing pages of the Qur’an. On 7 September she was released on bail and and reunited with her family, but they have been forced to leave the town after receiving many death threats.
Other members of the Christian community in Islamabad, where Rimsha and her family lived, have all been sacked from their jobs and face daily harrassment. A spokesman for the British Pakistani Christian Association said the local Imam wants to remove all Christians from the community. But Rimsha's case has also attracted support from senior Islamic clerics in Pakistan, and a high level of international attention.
There have been 1,400 blasphemy cases since the laws were first enacted in 1986, according to Human Rights Watch. There are more than 15 cases of people on death row for blasphemy in Pakistan, and 52 people have been killed while facing trial for the charge, he said.
Source: British Pakistani Christian Association/Human Rights Watch