Friday, July 23, 2010

Pakistani court frees mentally ill woman held for 14 years for allegedly desecrating Qur’an

Pakistan's proud Islamic-blasphemy laws target Christians and the mentally ill!!

If she was a Christian or other non-Muslim ~ doubtful if she would have been released!!

ISLAMABAD (CP)— A Pakistani court freed a mentally ill woman Thursday who had been held without trial for 14 years on allegations of desecrating the Qur’an, her defence lawyer said.

Lahore High Court Chief Justice Khawaja Mohammad Sharif reprimanded police in his ruling for arresting 60-year-old Zaibun Nisa without evidence, said her lawyer, Aftab Ahmad Bajwa.

"This case proves how police in our country abuse laws and how people are wrongly implicated," said Bajwa.

Under Pakistan's strict blasphemy laws, anyone accused of insulting Islam, its Prophet Muhammed or the Qur’an, its holy book, can be sentenced to death.

Nisa was arrested in 1996 after a Muslim prayer leader in a town near Islamabad, Qari Hafeez, told police that someone had desecrated the Qur’an, although he did not mention her name, said Bajwa.

Her family did not challenge the charge, and the woman was sent to a mental hospital in the eastern city of Lahore where she was held for 14 years, he said.

Before Thursday's ruling, Hafeez said he had not seen Nisa desecrating the Qur’an.

Bajwa said he learned about Nisa's ordeal about eight months ago.

"When I examined the case, I was shocked to know that police had arrested her despite knowing that she was mentally ill," he said.

Nisa is expected to be released on Friday, said Bajwa.

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