Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Pakistani Christian Leaders Urged to Rally Around Girl Accused of Blasphemy
By Jeremy Reynalds
Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service
PAKISTAN, ISLAMABAD (ANS) -- Rimsha Masih, a Pakistani girl accused of blasphemy, has been held in prison since the accusation was made against her couple of weeks ago.
Rimsha reportedly has Downs Syndrome, and media reports say a local mullah has framed the case against her (www.assistnews.net/Stories/2012/s12090020.htm).
Rimsha's lawyer, Tahir Naveed Chaudhry, has accused the prosecuting team of delaying tactics.
Her case was due to be heard on Sept. 3 if she would have been granted bail, but her court hearing has again been postponed, this time to Sept. 7.
Shamim said Rimsha's principal accuser, Imam Khalid Chishti has been arrested by police on suspicion of planting the pages of Koranic verses in Rimsha's bag, in which she was carrying burned papers.
All Pakistan Minority Alliance (APMA) is providing legal assistance to Rimsha. Other organizations are monitoring this case, such as the Pakistan United Christian Movement (PUCM).
Shamim said PUCM held a protest rally on Sunday, when its chairman Albert David demanded Rimsha’s immediate release.
Shamim called upon Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari to revisit the blasphemy laws, which he said are frequently misused by Muslim extremists to falsely accuse Christians and other minorities, in order to settle personal scores.
Shamim said when Albert David talked to the ROHI TV anchor Azhar Jatoi, he requested that Pakistan’s Christian leadership unite for the rights of Christianity. (ROHI TV is a local TV channel in Pakistan).
According to Shamim, David said instead of criticizing and blaming, it's better to move together in unity. “In the past, we made mistakes and have suffered a lot. Now it’s time to realise the sensitivity of the matter and stand together against discrimination.”
Shamim said blasphemy accusations are extremely serious in Pakistan and the lives of those accused are often at risk from radical Islamists, even if they are found to be innocent by the police or courts.
President Asif Ali Zardari has ordered an investigation into Rimsha's arrest.
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