Pakistan: ten year old girl accused of blasphemy and sentenced for a spelling mistake
by Jibran Khan
Faryal Bhatti misspelled a word in urdu referring to Muhammad, resulting in incredible reactions from teachers and the ulema. Expelled from school, her mother, a nurse, forced to leave work. Bishop Anthony: "Society is becoming so intolerant that a tiny error gets major attention."
Abbottabad (AsiaNews) - A spelling error has led to an accusation of blasphemy, and serious consequences for a Christian girl of 10 years of age and her family in Abbottabad. Faryal Bhatti, the daughter of a nurse, Sarafeen Bhatti is a student at Colony High School Havelian POF. On September 22, during an examination she misspelled a word in Urdu, putting the full top in the wrong place. Thus the word, referring to the prophet Muhammad, was transformed from "poem of praise" (naat) to "curse (lanaat). The Urdu teacher, Mrs. Fareeda, sternly rebuked Faryal in front of the class and took the matter to the headmaster, even though the child defended herself saying that it was a mistake.
The news of the alleged insult to Muhammad spread through the school, among teachers and the direction accused the girl of blasphemy. The school authorities informed the religious authorities who together with the inhabitants of the colony staged a demonstration, demanding the child be reported to police, expelled from school and her family expelled from the Colony. A mob chanted slogans against Christians, and in Friday sermons religious leaders denounced the episode as "a conspiracy against Islam", which was to be crushed.
In a meeting with teachers and religious leaders the child (in tears) and her mother explained that it was a mistake and apologized. Maulana Syed Ejaz Ali, a religious leader of the Jamia Masjid saw the piece of paper, talked with the child and mother and concluded: "I have no precise idea about the intentions of Faryal, her eyes filled with tears show her innocence, but the error has transformed the word into an insult and this is sufficient reason for a punishment, she should never throughout her entire life, think against Islam. "
To appease the religious the school administration expelled Faryal from school, Islamic clerics lobbied the Colony administration resulting in the mother being fired and forced to leave the residence. Both mother and daughter were transferred to Wah Cantonment by the hospital management. The Masihi Foundation has asked two Islamic clerics in Islamabad to give their opinion on the matter, Maulana Mehfooz Ali Khan and Hussain Ahmed Malik. Maulana said: "It is the innocent mistake of a child. Many Muslim students in the madrasas incorrectly pronounce the Arabic words, changing their meaning, you can not punish a child for an honest mistake, the girl was only 10 years old, she will carry this trauma with her. Faryal Bhatti has been subjected to all of this only because she is Christian, I protest against the decision to expel the young child and to transfer the mother. "
The bishop of Islamabad-Rawalpindi, Anthony Rufin, told AsiaNews: "I condemn the incident. Now, even Christian students are victimized and accused of blasphemy. Society is becoming so intolerant that a tiny error gets major attention. The ulema have decided on the punishment of a child who does not even know what she did wrong. They should have explained the mistake to her, if it really was a terrible mistake, in this way gaining her confidence and making a service to religious dialogue. What happened is exactly the opposite. "
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