08/30/2012, 00.00
PAKISTAN
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For Islamists, no "sympathy" for Rimsha Masih who must be judged "according to the law"

A Muslim legal expert says it is wrong to "take sides" for the girl who must be punished if she is guilty. "Let us pray for Rimsha and her family," says Islamabad bishop. The government should use the case as "an example" and take the "right measures" to stop abuses, he adds. Fears remain for the fate of 600 Christian families that fled their homes.

Islamabad (AsiaNews) - Despite appeals by Pakistani ulemas, Muslim religious scholars and legal experts believe that "it is wrong to show sympathy" to Rimsha Masih who must be judged according to the law. The Pakistan Penal Code imposes life in prison on anyone who commits blasphemy, unless some madman or organised group executes the "culprit" before he or she is tried for breaking the 'black law,' something that has already happened in the past. For Maulana Najeeb, a Muslim expert on Islam and the Qur'an, told AsiaNews that the court will decide her guilt, that people "should not take sides" because she should be judged "according to the law."

Under pressure from religious leaders present in the courtroom, the the blasphemy trial of Rimsha Masih was postponed. The 13-year-old girl was jailed for burning pages of the Qur'an. Through their lawyers, Islamists challenged the medical report that said that the girl was underage and suffering from unspecified mental problems. For her accusers, the medical report is too lenient towards, showing favouritism.

Tensions in the courtroom was palpable, raising fears about Rimsha's life, which appears to be hanging on a thread, especially since the last hearing should settle her remand in custody.

As they wait for the hearing, Pakistani Christians are keeping hope alive, even though the girl's legal situation has been made complicated by the opposition's challenge.

"Let us pray for Rimsha and her family," Mgr Rufin Anthony told AsiaNews. "We hope for good news on 1 September," said the prelate, who is the bishop of Islamabad-Rawalpindi.

"Let this case be an example for the government," he added, "so that it takes the right measures to guarantee the security of religious minorities."

The fate of 600 Christian families that fled Mehrabad G11, an Islamabad suburb, is still uncertain. They abandoned their homes fearing a revenge attack similar to the one in Gojra in 2009, when a mob incited by local imams attacked Christians because of an alleged case of blasphemy.

At present, the families are dispersed in groups in various parts of the capital. The authorities had said they would provide them with shelter, food and security, but so far they have done nothing concrete. As usual promises were not maintained. "They abandoned us," some of them cried out.

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