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Press Trust Of India
Islamabad, September 26, 2011
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 amonglocal 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 intentions.

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".