The lawyer representing a Pakistani girl charged with blasphemy for allegedly desecrating a Quran announced today that a medical review board has determined the girl is a minor. According to the Guardian, this determination may defuse the case. The accusations against the girl, discussed here, have ignited her neighborhood and caused 900 Christians to flee for fear of reprisals. The Guardian explains:
The case has once again put the spotlight on Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, which critics say can be used to settle vendettas or seek retribution. Many of Pakistan’s minorities, including Christians, live in fear of being accused of blasphemy.
Once someone is labelled a blasphemer, even if they are never convicted, they can face vigilante justice. In July, thousands of people dragged a Pakistani man accused of desecrating the Qur’an from a police station, beating him to death and setting his body alight.
The potential public backlash also means few people have spoken out to change or repeal the law. Last year two prominent politicians who criticised the blasphemy law were murdered, one by his own bodyguard, who then attracted adoring mobs.