» 08/24/2012, 00.00
Pakistani Muslims: Disabled 11 yr-old Christian should be punished
Muslim leader: no one can desecrate the Koran. And the faithful in the mosque call for the application of the "black law". Appeal of Bishop of Islamabad for unity among Christians "around the child." APMA lawyer speaks of "delicate matter" but is optimistic to have "good news soon." Families forced to flee denounce their abandonment by government.
(AsiaNews) - If guilty of blasphemy, the child should be punished according to
the laws of the country. This
is a widespread view among Muslims in Pakistan, whether laymen or religious
leaders, regarding the tragedy of an 11
year old Christian girl who is disabled and was recently charged under the
"black law". To
date the child is being detained under lock and key in a reform school -
pending a full hearing for release on bail - for desecrating a few pages of a
book that conatined verses from the Koran (see AsiaNews 19/08/2012 An
11-year-old disabled Christian girl arrested for blasphemy, 300 families flee). Interviewed
by AsiaNews on the issue scholar Mehmood Ahmed Khan, a member of the Islamic
Ideology Council (IIc), said that "Rimsha is a minor, but if she is
mentally stable and committed the crime, child or not she should be
adds, "no one can be allowed to desecrate the Koran."
human rights organizations, including the Masihi Foundation and Life for All,
along with the Catholic Church of Pakistan have announced a demonstration
tomorrow in Lahore on August 25, demanding the release of Rimsha Masih - this
is the name of the girl, arrested on blasphemy
charges - and who faces up to life in prison. The
incident occurred on August 17 in Umara Jaffar, G-12 Islamabad, where the
family of the minor live. In
response, a mob of local Muslims - egged on by the imams - attacked the
Christian community, forcing hundreds of families to flee.
Rufin Anthony of Islamabad-Rawalpindi has launched a call: "it is time for
the entire Christian community to unite and string around the child. Sunday -
adds the prelate - our voices will be heard in support thereof." Meanwhile,
the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA) has appointed parliamentarian Tahir
Naveed Chaudhry lawyer to Rimsha. He
assures us that "we will defend the rights of the oppressed" and has
prepared "a panel of experts to plead the case." It
is a "delicate matter," says the lawyer, but he is optimistic and
promises "good news soon."
sources say that the APMA lawyer was not allowed meet the child in prison. Now
the goal is to get her out of jail and put it in a safe place, since the vast
majority of blasphemy deaths are the result of extra-judicial killings, even in
prison under the gaze of guards (see AsiaNews 17/09 /
young Christian man accused of blasphemy killed in prison). The
Christian NGO World Vision in Progress has filed an appeal for bail, which will
be discussed on 28 August.
hundreds of Christian families forced to flee in fear of extremist attacks,
accuse the government of neglect and disinterest, despite government
proclamations in recent days that ensured comfort and help. Islamabad
has announced the distribution of food aid, but so far "has not done
anything," says a witness. There
is a climate of "insecurity" among the people and they do not "trust
to return to their homes." Meanwhile,
the police have opened an investigation against 150 people suspected of the assault
on the Christian Quarter of the capital when word got out of the blasphemy
the Muslims of Islamabad feelings toward the religious minority are mixed: some
are willing to "accept" the return of the Christians in their homes,
others do not. But
on one point I agree the faithful who flock to mosques around the capital: if
the girl is guilty, "to be punished according to law." No discounts or extenuating circumstances.
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