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  • » 08/30/2012, 00.00


    Islamabad, Islamic leaders challenge medical report, call for punishment of Rimsha Masih

    Jibran Khan

    Postponed to 1 September - the deadline for custody - a decision on the release of a minor mentally disabled Christian, indicted for blasphemy. In the court, legal experts and Muslim scholars have challenged the Commission's report. The girl is blasphemous and must be condemned. Fears for her safety. Protests by Christians.

    Islamabad (AsiaNews) - A court in Islamabad, under pressure from religious leaders in the courtroom, has postponed to September 1 the trial for blasphemy against Rimsha Masih, a Christian girl of 13 who is being held in prison for burning pages of the Koran . The Islamist front, through a lawyer, presented a report that disputes the results of the medical committee, who declared her a minor with - unspecified - mental disabilities. The tension was palpable in the court, increasing security concerns for Rimsha's safety, whose life now appears increasingly endangered.

    Inside sources report that tomorrow Judges will review the report submitted by counsel for the Muslim religious leaders, who claim Rimsha is 14 and not mentally disturbed, so she must answer for her actions. On September 1st the judges will announce their decision, in a court - most likely - reinforced for safety reasons. According to procedure the accused must be present at the trial, at the end of her period of preventive detention, which expires September 1st. However, the emerging threats to Rimsha Masih's security are giving rise to fears that fanatic or extremist groups are planning to kill her.

    Rimsha Masih is charged under the "black law" for having burned pages printed with verses from the Koran. She could face up to life in prison and retaliation from elements close to the fundamentalist Taliban.  They have repeatedly carried out extra-judicial murders of persons indicted for blasphemy.

    The judges have to decide whether to grant her release, after a court appointed medical board determined that the girl is under 14 years of age and shows a mental age lower than her chronological age (see AsiaNews 28/08 / 2012 Blasphemy, Rimsha Masih, minor with mental problems. Bishop of Islamabad: a positive outcome). However no details are given about the nature of her mental disabilities.

    Meanwhile, outside the court in Islamabad Christian activists, groups and movements demonstrated to demand the girl's release. The Avaaz organization has launched an international campaign calling for Rimsha Masih's release.  The child has become an icon in spite of herself just as Asia Bibi,  in the fight against the infamous blasphemy law in Pakistan. About fifty members of Life for All brandished placards with the inscription: "More than 20 thousand people in the world demand freedom for Rimsha Masih".


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    See also

    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.

    25/09/2012 PAKISTAN
    As silence falls on the imam behind the blasphemy, Rimsha Masih's case goes to juvenile court
    A court in Islamabad refers to juvenile court the case of the Christian teenager with mental problems. Next hearing is set for 1 October. For Mgr Rufin Anthony, she should be acquitted. The affair is a test case to stop abuses. After the anti-Muslim movie affair broke out, no one is willing to talk about the Muslim leader who fabricated the evidence against the girl.

    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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