A Pakistani school expelled a 13-year-old Christian girl for alleged blasphemy and her mother was transferred from her job as a nurse near the town where Osama bin Laden was killed, officials said Monday.
The conservative Muslim country has been increasingly criticized in the West for tough anti-blasphemy laws that make defaming Islam punishable by death and over the persecution of the tiny non-Muslim minority.
Faryal Tauseef, an eighth-grade student at Sir Syed High School in the northwest garrison town of Havelian, was asked with her class to define “naat”, a style of poem written in praise of the Prophet Mohammed.
The town is just south of Abbottabad, the garrison city where U.S. special forces killed the al-Qaeda leader in a covert raid on May 2, and which exposed the Pakistan military to accusations of incompetence or complicity.
“In her explanation Faryal wrote a word which was blasphemous,” school administrator Junaid Sarfraz told AFP.
“The girl confessed, saying that she did it by mistake and the school administration, after consulting local clerics, decided to rusticate (expel) her.”
According to her teacher, the girl made the mistake “intentionally” and the matter was referred to clerics because she had aroused similar suspicions of blasphemy in the past, Sarfraz added.
Faryal’s mother, a staff nurse, had also been transferred out of town, he said.
“The girl has been expelled for using derogatory words and her mother has been moved to another place,” district commissioner Syed Imtiaz Hussain Shah told AFP.
Police said no case had been registered and that the matter was considered over following a pardon from Muslim clerics.
The government says it has no intention of reforming Pakistan’s tough anti-blasphemy law, introduced in 1986, despite the assassinations of a leading politician in January and a Christian cabinet minister in March.
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) member Salman Taseer was killed by his bodyguard and minorities minister Shahbaz Bhatti assassinated en route to a cabinet meeting for their opposition to the law.
Taseer had supported a Christian mother of five sentenced to death in November 2010 for alleged blasphemy in the central province of Punjab.
Pakistan has yet to execute anyone for blasphemy. Most of those given the death penalty have their sentences overturned or commuted on appeal.
Religious parties strongly defend the law.