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    » 09/07/2012, 00.00

    PAKISTAN - ITALY

    "I am very happy for my daughter's liberation," Rimsha Masih's father tells AsiaNews

    Dario Salvi

    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."

    Rome (AsiaNews) - "I am very happy for my daughter's liberation," said Misrek Masih, Rimsha's father, as he spoke to AsiaNews. "I am grateful from the bottom of my heart" for what the Catholic activists from the APMA and Minister Paul Bhatti did, "working tirelessly for her release." The mentally disabled girl was arrested in mid-August on blasphemy charges stemming from allegations that she had desecrated pages of the Qur'an. This morning an Islamabad court ordered her release on bail after reports surfaced that an imam had fabricated accusations against her in order to ignite hostilities against the local Christian community and take over their property. After days of tensions and fear, the girl's family can prepare to celebrate her release (after US$ 5,000 was posted for bail) and welcome her home.

    AsiaNews contacted to Paul Bhatti, special advisor to the prime minister for national harmony, who, from a safe house, was instrumental in allowing us to talk to the girl's family.

    "We are happy for the happy ending to the affair," an emotional Misrek said in whispering voice. The same goes for the rest of the family, Rimsha's mother and sisters, especially the youngest one, Neha who is seven. "We are very happy," she said repeatedly, "very happy that my sister has come home."

    As he thinks back to what happened to his family, Misrek Masih said, "When I heard about the charges, which led to flight of 600 Christian families living in the suburb where we lived, my world collapsed. I was scared."

    Despite everything, the Catholic family's faith in Jesus helped him find some of his lost sense of safety. Our "Hope and faith in Christ are strong," Rimsha's father said. "He brought us salvation through the work of the minister and all those who were actively involved in securing my daughter's freedom". Through Paul Bhatti, "the charity of Jesus because a visible sign."

    Through AsiaNews, he sent a "special thanks" to all the activists and members of the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA) who worked on his daughter's behalf.

    The organisation, which was founded by the late Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan's Minority Affairs minister who was killed by Muslim extremists in March 2011, is currently headed by his Paul Bhatti.  

    Misrek Masih also expressed "A special thanks to the government of Pakistan and the police" for what they did.

    In this moment of joy, Paul Bhatti dedicated a moment of reflection to his brother Shabbaz. "He is guiding my work," the special national harmony advisor said. "He showed me the path to follow for this case to be solved in a positive manner."

    Besides praising the government and the police, the Pakistani Catholic federal minister had some thoughts for all those in Italy who support his action, like the "bishop of Vittorio Veneto (Treviso province) and the Community of Sant'Egidio."

     

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    See also

    29/05/2006 PAKISTAN
    Without evidence police arrest Christian on blasphemy charges
    A Christian from Karachi is arrested for allegedly sending blasphemous cellphone messages "as revenge for last month's attacks against churches by Muslims." Human rights activists demand that he not be remanded into police custody because too many people die in prison without trial.

    05/04/2007 PAKISTAN
    Life of 11-year-old Christian in danger even though he is not charged with anything
    Blasphemy accusations have been made against five Christians, the youngest a 16-year-old, after a quarrel between boys that was blamed on the 11-year-old. Local Christians are afraid that he might become the target of violence.

    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.



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