(AsiaNews) - The High Court in Islamabad extended to 14
November the restraining order against the trial of Rimsha Masih, a mentally
challenged Christian girl charged with blasphemy. The ruling came at a hearing on
a petition filed by the accused girl's lawyers to quash the First Information Report (FIR) registered against her on
the ground that the charges are false and baseless. Meanwhile, anti-Christian violence
continues as attacks are reported against Karachi's St Francis Catholic Church
and Faisalabad's Bawa Chak Presbyterian Church.
the end of the hearing, the court extended the restraining order
until 14 November, directing counsels to conclude their arguments at the
upcoming hearing. In his remarks, one of the defence lawyers reiterated his
client's demand for dismissal of the case since there was no offence and that Rimsha should be released.
He added that
the imam at the Jaffer Mosque, Khalid Jadoon Chishti,
fabricated the story in order to force out minority Christians from their homes
and seize their assets, and that if anyone committed blasphemy, it was the imam
according to the testimony of three witnesses, who however later retracted.
irony is that the imam who deliberately desecrated the Qur'an is free on bail. His
lawyers are trying to delay proceedings. Prosecutors in the case have indicated
that they are not planning to try the imam on blasphemy charges, which goes to
show, critics point out, of how the 'black law' is used arbitrarily against
minorities, political adversaries, and business competitors.
Pakistani Christians and their places of worship are still targeted. On 12
October, a mob of hundreds attacked St Francis Catholic Church in Karachi. The building
suffered external damage but the attackers were not able to get inside. Worshippers
later spoke about the fright they experienced as the local bishop, Mgr Joseph
Coutts, tried to lessen their fear by organising support rallies and slamming
the extremists who attacked.
second incident was reported last Sunday in Faisalabad. At 11 am, Muslim
fanatics attacked the Bawa Chak Presbyterian Church. The attack was sparked by
an incident in which a 26-year-old Muslim man was accidentally struck by a
cricket ball during a match by Christian teenagers.
altercation that followed led to a full blown attack by a mob of Muslims wielding
sticks, stones and guns against the local Presbyterian church during Sunday
mass. Some children and women were injured during the assault. Most residents
of the area locked themselves in their homes to avoid further violence.
to AsiaNews, Christian activist and lawmaker Joel Aamir Sahotra said the whole
affair was very sad since the attack against the church occurred during a
special Mass for Malala Yousafzai, the Muslim girl wounded by the Taliban who
is now recovering in a British hospital. This token of solidarity was for all
Muslims, who in response attack minorities.
Fr Nisar Barkat, director of the National Commission for Justice and Peace in Faisalabad,
"violence has penetrated people's minds because of biased teachings" in mosques
by extremist imams and religious leaders. For this reason, he wants the
government to enforce the law and promote peace and harmony.
Khokhar contributed to the article.)