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Pakistani Christian Teen Accused of Blasphemy Flees with Family

Jeremy Reynalds

Pakistani Christian Teen Accused of Blasphemy Flees with Family

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN (ANS) -- An eighth-grade Christian girl expelled from her school on an accusation of blasphemy when she misspelled a term of praise for Mohammad has fled from her hometown with her family, fearing for their lives.

According to the Pakistan Christian Post, the blasphemy charge was filed against Faryal Tauseef Bhatti, 13, a student at Sir Syed High School.

Bhatti’s troubles began when her teacher, Farida Bibi, checked her test paper. Instead of using a word of praise for Mohammad, she used a word -- close in spelling -- which means "curse."

Bibi reported her student’s “blasphemy” to the school principal, who opted to immediately expel Bhatti from school.

PCP said the news of the alleged blasphemy of Mohammad’s name by a Christian student spread quickly in the small town of Havelian. Muslims launched protests to punish Bhatti.

As a result, PCP reported, Sept. 23 was a day of fear for the few dozen Christian families of Havelian when Islamic clerics delivered sermons in mosques during Friday prayers saying that Bhatti was a blasphemer and must be punished.

Clerics said that Muslim teacher Bibi said it was not a mistake, but Bhatti’s intention to defile Mohammad’s name. Using mosque loudspeakers, the clerics said the young teen and other Christians needed to be taught a lesson.

PCP said when a reporter visited Havelian, neither Bhatti nor any other family members could be found.

PCP said the country’s controversial blasphemy law is being misused by radical Islamics as a weapon to enforce personal rivalries and business disputes against religious communities in Pakistan.

There have been incidents of Muslim mob attacks on Christian properties, and Christians burned alive. There have also been dozens of assassinations of Christians on a pretext of blasphemy, PCP reported.

PCP said Nazir S. Bhatti, president of the Pakistan Christian Congress, has condemned the blasphemy allegations of Faryal Bhatti’s teacher, because Christian students are excluded from Islamic Studies classes, according to Lahore High Court rulings. The court issued a decree that non-Muslims would have an alternative class.

“I urge [the] government of Pakistan to repeal [the] blasphemy law as it is hanging like [a] sword on [the] necks of millions of Christians, Hindus and Ahmadi religious communities, and hundreds of innocent minority members have been killed by Islamists on [this] pretext,” Nazir Bhatti said.

PCP said Nazir Bhatti demanded safety for Faryal Bhatti and her family. He urged Islamic clerics and Islamic political leaders to step forward to stop the misuse of the blasphemy law against innocent religious minorities.

Jeremy Reynalds is Senior Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service, a freelance writer and also the founder and CEO of Joy Junction, New Mexico's largest emergency homeless shelter.

Publication date: September 30, 2011