Pakistan (MNN) — Since Oct. 9, 2008, Sandul Bibi and her father, Gulsher Masih, have been held in a Pakistani prison under the charge of tearing pages out of the Koran.
Voice of the Martyrs, USA has covered the story since it began. Today, they are happy to report the newest development.
"The good news that has come to our office from our staff is that they have now been found innocent of these charges. They have been set free–released from prison. This is a great ending to the story," said Todd Nettleton, VOM spokesman.
Over the past several months, dozens of court hearings have been scheduled, but either the judge or the prosecutor hasn't shown up, and they are forced to reschedule.
Yesterday, their case finally went to trial, and the judge dropped all charges and declared the two innocent.
The father and daughter pair was originally arrested under the country's blasphemy laws, which can charge Christians for crimes committed against Islam and hold them for extended periods of time without evidence or a trial.
"The blasphemy law in Pakistan in really used as a weapon against the Church and against Christian people–not necessarily because of their Christian faith, so much as to settle any other kind of a dispute," Nettleton said. Therefore, it's not unusual for someone to use the "blasphemy" law to lash out against Christians, to settle personal disputes.
For example, if a Christian owns land which someone else wants, the Christian can be accused of saying something against Allah or ripping pages from the Koran. When the Christian is held for months without resolution, the disputer can take the land because the Christian is not there to defend the property.
Nettleton said there has been some recent talk about reforming the laws in some way. However, at this point, it is only talk.
But with yesterday's ruling, Nettleton said there is a glimmer of hope for Christians.
"In the case of Sandul Bibi and Gulsher Masih, they've lost fourteen or fifteen months of their lives, but still, it is good news that Christians can find justice in Pakistan," he said.
Continue to pray for Pakistani Christians to remain faithful and bold, even when falsely accused. Pray that this small victory will mean future change in the treatment of Christians across the country.
Visit persecution.com for further updates in this case.