Christian Girl, Family in Pakistan Expelled over Misspelling
Wild accusation of ‘blasphemy’ forces eighth-grader’s family to relocate.
LAHORE, Pakistan, September 28 (CDN) — An eighth-grade student in Pakistan has been expelled from school and her family forced to relocate after the Christian girl misspelled an Urdu word, leading to accusations of “blasphemy,” sources said.
In the garrison city of Abbottabad, 13-year-old Faryal Bhatti, a student at the Sir Syed Girls High School in Pakistan Ordnance Factories (POF) Colony Havelian, misspelled a word on an Urdu exam on Thursday (Sept. 22) while answering a question on a poem in praise of the Muslim prophet Muhammad, according to area Christians.
Faryal wrote laanat, the transliteration of the Urdu word for “curse,” instead of naat, which means a poem written in praise of Islam’s prophet, they said. The school administration and local Islamists declared that the error was serious enough to violate Pakistan’s widely condemned laws against blaspheming Muhammad and Islam.
Conviction under Section 295-C of Pakistan’s blasphemy law for derogatory comments about Muhammad is punishable by death, though life imprisonment is also possible.
Faryal’s Urdu teacher was collecting the answer sheets from her students when she noticed the word on Faryal’s paper. The teacher, identified only as Fareeda, summoned the Christian girl, scolded her and beat her, area sources told Compass by telephone.
Fareeda then notified the principal, who in turn informed school officials as news of the error spread throughout the colony. The next day, male students at the school as well as some Muslim representatives staged a demonstration, demanding registration of a criminal case against the eighth-grader and her eviction from the area, sources said.
Prayer leaders within the Muslim community also condemned the incident in their Friday sermons, asking the colony’s administration to take action against Faryal as well as her family, sources said.
POF Colony Havelian Managing Director Asif Siddiki called a meeting of clerics and school teachers to discuss the conflict, according to reports, at which the girl and her mother were ordered to appear; they explained that it was a mere error caused by a resemblance between the two words.