Rome (AsiaNews) -
In this time of Advent in preparation for Christmas, "I ask Catholics, the
West, the international community to help all Christians in prison, victims of
the blasphemy laws." This
is the appeal, given to AsiaNews, of
Rimsha Masih, a Christian minor suffering from mental problems who was arrested
because of the "black law" last August and then cleared. For
weeks, her story occupied Pakistani newspapers and world media, garnering solidarity
and participation inside and outside the country. Thanks
to the work of the Federal Minister Paul Bhatti, supported by the Muslim
community and the government in Islamabad, the story - for the first time - has
resulted in a positive outcome. A
few days before the holidays, Rimsha and family wanted to send "greetings
to Pope Benedict XVI and all Christians of the world."
On September 7, the judges of the court of Islamabad ordered the release girl's on bail. She was arrested in August on charges of blasphemy, accused of desecrating the Koran. In reality it was a false charge staged by Imam Khalid Jadoon Chishti, who acted with the intention to create resentment towards the Christians and seize their property. After a little more than two months, November 20, the Islamabad High Court acquitted the 14 year old Catholic, because the crime did not exist. Following the ruling, the Special Adviser to the Prime Minister for National Harmony Paul Bhatti spoke of "happiness and satisfaction." He considered the verdict a "precedent" whereby the law "can not be used for personal purposes" and "those who put forward false accusations, are likely to suffer the same fate and be tried."
The 14 year old girl is currently in a safe place together with her family, under the protection of the Pakistani government and Catholic activists of the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA), an association founded by Shahbaz Bhatti - former Minister for Minorities, who was assassinated by Islamic extremists - and now led by his brother Paul. Reached on the telephone by AsiaNews, Rimsha was playing with her brothers. She laughed several times during the interview and confirmed an atmosphere of relative calm. After a difficult period, says the girl, "I'm happy now." "This Christmas - she adds - I thank God for saving me and Jesus Christ for helping me."
Her words show the simplicity of a young girl whose life was turned upside down by a terrible accusation and who asks, after all, only for things to return to normal. "For Christmas - continues Rimsha - I would like to get nice clothes and a pair of sneakers." She adds that another great desire is to "be able to return to school." And then the call, addressed to all Christians, the West, the international community: "I ask you to support and assist all Christians - she concludes - who are in prison because of the blasphemy laws," including Asia Bibi, to "be close to them."
Misrek Masih, father of Rimsha, thanks "Jesus for saving us" and addresses a thought to "the minister Paul Bhatti and his entire organization [APMA] for supporting us. A prayer also dedicated to the Pakistani government, which has ensured our protection. " He adds, however, that the family "still do not feel safe" and "still fear for their fate". As a result, this Christmas we wish to be able to "find a refuge in a foreign country, because here we still feel threatened." "We can not leave quietly - said the father - our life is always in danger, extremist groups might strike. We strongly desire to start a new life elsewhere."
Despite the difficulties, dangers and threats, Rimsha and family wait with joy and anticipation for the holidays and they ask to end our conversation with a series of greetings. "We want to wish Merry Christmas to the Pope - the girl, her parents and siblings chime in chorus- and all the Christians of the world, and we thank you very much for the support we received. Again, Merry Christmas."