11/20/2012, 00.00
PAKISTAN
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Islamabad: blasphemy charge dismissed for Rimsha Masih, the disabled Christian girl

Rimsha and her family have had to live in hiding due to death threats. The allegations mounted by an imam who wanted to drive Christians from the area and take possession of their goods. A campaign for Rimsha supported by Paul Batthi and the bishop of Islamabad, Msgr. Rufin Anthony, as well as by several Muslim personalities.

Islamabad (AsiaNews) - The High Court of Islamabad has dismissed the charge of blasphemy against a disabled Christian girl, accused by an imam of burning pages with phrases from the Koran.

Rimsha Masih was arrested last August following allegations by an imam, Khalid Jadoon Chisti, and the testimony of three people. The girl had been imprisoned in a maximum security prison, after a mob of Muslim fundamentalists tried to kill her and kill her family. Due to the allegations, 600 Christian families of Umara Jaffar, Sector G-12 of Islamabad, where Rimsha lived, have fled.

Her story had prompted international concern due to her young age and the manipulation of blasphemy charges.

Fundamentalist groups had claimed that the girl was already an adult and thus liable to imprisonment, but the court doctors determined that she was actually a teenager of 14 years. Thus she was able to be freed on bail, but her family has had to live in hiding for all this time.

A solution to the case began to emerge when the three witnesses who accused the girl revealed that they had been driven by the imam to do so, with the secret plan to oust Christian families from the village and take possession of their property. The trial of the imam who fabricated the evidence has not yet been scheduled.

The trial against Rimsha saw at the forefront as her supporters the Minister Paul Batthi, Special Adviser for National Harmony, and the bishop of Islamabad, Msgr. Rufin Anthony. Even  Muslim leaders  have supported the girl's release.

The blasphemy laws, introduced in 1986 by General Zia-ul-haq to satisfy the requests of the Islamic extremist fringe, have so far caused the indictment of at least a thousand people and the death of 60, most of them victims of extra-judicial killings by angry mobs or individuals.

 

 

 

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