Pakistan grants bail to 'blasphemy' girl Rimsha Masih

Deaf Pakistani men carry the Koran and placards during a protest in Lahore on March 18, 2012, over the burning of Korans in Afghanistan.

A court in Pakistan today granted bail to Rimsha Masih, the Christian girl who spent three weeks in custody accused of blasphemy, the News Pakistan website reported.

Rimsha, who was arrested in a poor suburb of Islamabad on August 16 and accused of burning pages from the Quran, was released on two surety bonds of 500,000 rupees ($5,200).

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Mixed media reports put her at between 11 and 14 years old, and say she may be suffering from Down syndrome.

Under Pakistan's strict blasphemy laws, burning a sacred text is punishable by life imprisonment, while insulting the prophet Mohammed is punishable by death.

The decision to grant bail comes amid international outcry at the detention of Rimsha, and increasing calls for her release.

As reported by GlobalPost, police blocked an earlier bail request, saying that the life of the girl and her family would be in risk if she were released.

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On Saturday, police arrested Muslim cleric Hafiz Mohammed Khalid Chishti, following accusations he planted pages from the Quran among the burnt papers in Rimsha’s bag, in an effort to boost the case against her, Agence France Presse reported.

Rimsha was being held in the high-security Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi, near the capital Islamabad.