(AsiaNews) - An Islamabad court will decide tomorrow whether to accept a
request by lawyers representing Rimsha Masih to release the mentally challenged
Christian girl in prison since 16 August on blasphemy charges. The case has attracted
worldwide attention and many organisations have launched protest and solidarity
campaigns on her behalf.
the margins of this case, the fate of hundreds of Christian families who fled
their neighbourhood on the outskirts of the capital for fear of retaliation by
Muslim extremists remains uncertain. Some of them in fact have not yet found a
safe haven but cannot go back to their homes.
Masih was accused of blasphemy on the basis of the 'black law' because she
burnt some pages on which were printed some Qur'anic verses. According to the
Pakistan Penal Code, she could get life in prison. It is feared that extremists
elements close to the Taliban could retaliate, something they have done in the
past when they carried out extrajudicial executions of people accused of
court is expected to decide whether to release the girl or not after reviewing
the findings of an evaluation carried out by a medical commission established
for that purpose. The latter found that the
girl is under the age of 14 and with reduced mental faculties. So far,
it is unclear what her mental disability might be.
the meantime, the Association of Pakistani Christians has launched a campaign
for Rimsha's release with hundreds of people signing up around the world. The plea
will eventually be presented to Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari.
by Mobeen Shahid, professor at the Pontifical Lateran University, activists in
Rome plan to show their solidarity by launching an initiative directed at
Pakistan's highest authorities.
initiative will also include a demand to "revise or abolish" the country's
blasphemy law, which has created hundreds of innocent victims since it was
introduced in 1986.