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Pakistani schoolgirls protest school closure over 'blasphemy' case

These girls want their school back.

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A girl reciting in class at Mirza Adam Khan Government School underneath a picture of Pakistan’s founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah, considered an advocate for education. (Alex Stonehill/GlobalPost)

Some 400 schoolgirls today protested the closure of their Lahore school due to the jailing of their head teacher on blasphemy charges, according to India's Deccan Herald

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Their headmaster, 77-year-old Asim Farooqi, was refused bail by a Pakistani court today on the grounds that he did not prevent one of his teachers from assigning homework that allegedly insulted Islam, a charge that can carry the death penalty in Pakistan, reported Agence-France Presse. He was remanded in custody for the next 14 days. 

The teacher in question, Arfa Iftikhar, has gone into hiding, while her employer, the Farooqi Girls' High School, publicly condemned her "dirty act," according to ANI

A mob angered by the incident attacked the school on October 31, said the Herald.

Pakistan's blasphemy law has come under increasing criticism in recent months following the arrest of Rimsha Masih, a Christian girl accused of desecrating the Koran and later released after international outcry. 

The school's students, parents, and teachers have all demonstrated for Farooqi's release, marching with signs that read, "Release our principal," said AFP

The lawyer representing Farooqi argued that he had no role in the homework assignment, which police officials said involved "indecent" comments about the Prophet Mohammed, according to the Herald

A number of local clerics have openly opposed Farooqi's release, AFP said.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/pakistan/121103/pakistan-protest-grows-over-teachers-jailing-blas