World news in brief

23 November 2012

Rimsha charges dropped

THE blasphemy charges against a 14-year-old Pakistani girl were dropped on Tuesday. Rimsha Masih was accused of burning pages from the Qur'an three months ago (News, 24 August). The chairman of the country's leading body of Muslim clerics defended Rimsha, and attacked the imam who was accused of tampering with the evidence to ensure her conviction (News, 7 September). Concerns remain that Rimsha, who has a young mental age, and her family, who remain in hiding, will not be safe in Pakistan. Mervyn Thomas, of Christianity Solidarity Worldwide, said that if the accused imam was held accountable, others may "think twice before misusing the laws in a similar fashion".

Injunction in Tyndale contraception case

A JUDGE in the United States has granted a preliminary injunction to Tyndale House Publishers, which is seeking an exemption from a government mandate that requires employers to offer health-insurance plans that include free contraception (News, 2 November). The company objects to contraception, which it equates with abortion. District Judge Reggie Walton ruled that the mandate "affirmatively compels the plaintiffs to violate their religious beliefs in order to comply with the law", and questioned whether this furthered the government's interests in promoting public health and ensuring that women have equal access to health care. The case continues.

Sentenced to the pews

A TEENAGER in the United States who pleaded guilty to manslaughter, has been ordered to attend church for ten years, as part of a deferred sentence handed down by a judge in Oklahama. District Judge Mike Norman also ordered Tyler Alred, who was found guilty of manslaughter while driving under the influence of alcohol, to finish his high-school education and a welding course. Ryan Kiesel, of the American Civil Liberties Union, described it as a "clear violation of the First Amendment".


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