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  • mediazioni e arbitrati, risoluzione alternativa delle controversie e servizi di mediazione e arbitrato


    » 08/19/2012, 00.00

    PAKISTAN

    An 11-year-old disabled Christian girl arrested for blasphemy, 300 families flee

    Imran Morris

    The girl is accused of burning pages from a booklet used to teach Arabic and the Qur'an. Under the Pakistan Penal Code, she could get life in prison. Police saved her from an enraged mob that tried to kill her, but more than 300 families fled their homes fearing more violence. Paul Bhatti calls for calm.

    Islamabad (AsiaNews) - For the first time in Pakistan's history, the country's 'black law' has been used against a minor, a disabled 11-year-old Christian girl. Arrested on blasphemy charges, Rimsha Masih, who suffers from Down's syndrome, could get life in prison. Only police intervention saved her from a lynch mob of Muslim extremists. Her case has shocked Islamabad's Christian community, driving hundreds of Christian families from their homes in the girl's neighbourhood fearing possible retaliation. National Harmony Minister Paul Bhatti, a Catholic, has called on Muslim religious leaders to snuff out any source of violence.

    The 11-year-old girl, Rimsha Masih, is at the centre of a terrible affair. After being charged with desecrating the Qur'an, she was remanded for 14 days to a juvenile prison in Rawalpindi. The offence comes under Article 295-B of the Pakistan Penal Code and carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

    Witnesses claim that Rimsha, daughter of Misrak Masih, burnt ten pages of the Noorani Qaida, an Islamic booklet used to learn basic Arabic and the Qur'an. She is also said to have put the booklet inside a plastic bag, which she threw into the garbage.

    Supposedly, the event occurred on 17 August in Umara Jaffar, a slum in Islamabad's Sector G-12, where the girl lives with her family. Police filed a First Information Report after a Muslim man, Syed Muhammad Ummad, made a formal complaint.

    Police took Rimsha Masih into custody under pressure from Muslim extremists. Threatening to take justice in their own hands, a mob of hundreds enraged people attacked the girl's family, trying to lynch her and her mother. Police eventually took the girl away for her own safety, in prison.

    Fearing more violence, some 300 families living in the Christian slum fled their homes seeking safety elsewhere. Local sources told AsiaNews that in the area, tensions are running high and that Muslim fundamentalists are threatening to set fire to Christian homes.

    National Harmony Minister Paul Bhatti, who is also special advisor to the prime minister on minority affairs, has appealed to Muslim leaders, especially clerics, asking them to help keep the lid on matters to avoid anti-Christian attacks. His brother Shabbaz, Pakistan's first Catholic minister, was murdered by extremists on 2 March 2011 because of this opposition to the 'black law.'

    Last month, a mentally disabled Muslim man was burnt alive in Bahawalpur, southern Pakistan, after he was accused of blasphemy and a mob set him on fire for "desecrating the Qur'an."

    On the internet, the girl's arrest has caused a wave of protests. Many wonder: "Is this the real Islam?" Others wonder who are the real mental cases, "the girl or those who would punish her" for allegedly breaking the law.

    The blasphemy law was introduced in 1986 by General Zia-ul-haq in response to demands by Muslim extremists. Thus far, at least a thousand people have been charged for breaking it. Of these, 60 have died, mostly killed in extrajudicial murders by enraged mobs or individuals.

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    See also

    07/09/2012 PAKISTAN - ITALY
    "I am very happy for my daughter's liberation," Rimsha Masih's father tells AsiaNews
    In an interview with the family of the girl accused of blasphemy, who was released today on bail, Misrek Masih said, "my world collapsed. I was scared." He thanks APMA activists for their work. Faith in Jesus helped him find hope. Paul Bhatti thanks his brother Shabbaz for showing "me the path to follow."

    01/09/2012 PAKISTAN
    Pakistan, Rimsha Masih bail hearing adjourned
    The Islamabad court will decide on bail for disabled Christian girl accused of blasphemy on September 3. The National Commission for Justice and Peace reopens the debate on education in Pakistan and denounces: in Punjab and Sindh 2012-2013, textbooks filled with hatred and false history against Hindus, Christians and people of India.

    20/11/2012 PAKISTAN
    Pakistani Christians happy about Rimsha Masih verdict, Islamists talk about "manipulation"
    For the bishop of Islamabad, the ruling is a "great development." Now a law to end blasphemy abuses is needed. A Lahore priest sees the decision as a legal milestone. Islamists however are angered, blaming the government for putting pressures on the court.

    29/08/2012 PAKISTAN - ITALY
    As Rimsha Masih waits for her fate to be decided, Christian activists campaign for her release
    Islamabad court will decide on lawyers' application for release. The opinion of a medical commission that examined the girl will be decisive. Its findings indicate that she is a minor with unspecified mental challenges. Hundreds of people sign a petition for her release sponsored by a Pakistani association in Italy.

    01/10/2012 PAKISTAN
    Rimsha Masih trial postponed until 17 October, the three witnesses against imam retract
    The judge postpones hearing because of prosecution lawyer's absence. Despite her innocence, the disabled Christian girl is still on trial for blasphemy. The witnesses who said the evidence against the girl had been tampered have now retracted their original statement. They claim they were tortured and pressured to testify against Khalid Jadoon Chishti.



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