Pak Christian girl accused of blasphemy

Faryal Bhatti misspelt a word while answering a question on a poem written in praise of Prophet Mohammed.

Islamabad: A teenage Pakistani Christian
girl who misspelt a word while answering a question on a poem
written in praise of Prophet Mohammed was accused of blasphemy
and expelled from school, according to a media report on Sunday.

Faryal Bhatti, an eighth grade student at Sir Syed Girls
High School in the Pakistan Ordnance Factories colony at
Havelian near Abbottabad, misspelt the word in an Urdu
examination on Thursday.

While answering the question on a poem written in praise
of Prophet Mohammed, Bhatti misspelt the word `naat` (hymn) as
`laanat` (curse). This was an easy error for a child to make
as the written versions of the words are similar, The Express
Tribune daily reported.

The error led to accusations of blasphemy against Bhatti
and uproar among local religious leaders.

According to the school`s administration and religious
leaders who took exception to the student`s mistake, the error
was "serious" enough to fall within the realm of blasphemy.

Bhatti`s Urdu teacher Fareeda Bibi noticed the error
while collecting answer sheets from her students. She
reportedly summoned Bhatti, scolded her and beat her.

When Bhatti`s classmates learnt of the alleged blasphemy,
the teacher brought the matter to the notice of the principal,
who in turn informed the school`s management.

The news also spread through the Pakistan Ordnance
Factories colony. The next day, male students of the school
and some religious leaders organised a rally and demanded the
registration of a criminal case against Bhatti and her
expulsion from the area.

Prayer leaders condemned the incident in their Friday
sermons and asked the colony`s administration to take action
against Bhatti and her family.

Following the spike in tensions, POF Colony Managing
Director Asif Siddiki called a meeting of local clerics and
school teachers to discuss the situation.

Bhatti and her mother attended the meeting and explained
that it was a mere error caused by the similarity between the
two words. They apologised and said Bhatti had no malicious

In a move apparently aimed at pacifying religious
elements clamouring for action, the POF Colony administration
expelled her from the school on Saturday.

Bhatti`s mother, Sarafeen Bhatti, a staff nurse at the
POF Hospital in Havelian, was transferred to the Wah
Cantonment Hospital.

Maulana Alla Dita Khateeb of Gol Masjid praised the
decision to expel the girl from school. Asked whether the
incident fell within the realm of blasphemy, Khateeb said
though he was unclear about the intentions of the
girl, the word she had used was "sacrilegious".


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