Huffington Post: News broke Tuesday that a Pakistani high court dismissed blasphemy charges against Rimsha Masih, a young Christian girl, finding the accusation that she burned pages of the Quran to be “legally unsound.” The decision comes after months of religious tension and protests following the girl’s August arrest and detention in an adult criminal system — with potential for a sentence to life in prison — and then weeks in hiding for the girl and her family, for fear of vigilante retribution. The case sparked international outrage.
One productive result of this terrible incident has been renewed international debate over Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. Here, Dr. Douglas Johnston, President of the International Center for Religion and Diplomacy (ICRD) reflects on the original intent and dangerous potential for misuse of these laws. His views are informed by his Center’s work with Pakistan’s madrasas (religious schools) over the past eight years, enhancing the curriculums and transforming the pedagogy to create critical thinking skills among the students and to inspire greater adherence to the principles of religious tolerance and human rights. The Center has also sponsored inter-faith seminars for Muslim clerics and Christian pastors.