12/13/2010, 00.00
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Sri Lanka, Muslims and Catholics together to save the life of Rizana Nafeek

by Melani Manel Perera
The girl has been sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia, accused of murdering an infant, son of the woman that Rizana worked for. In three mosques meetings were organized to pray and sign the "Save Rizana” petition. The signatures will be sent to the king of Saudi Arabia, hoping he will grant clemency for the girl. Since 2007, Fr. Sigamony, national director of Caritas Sri Lanka, has been working for the release of Rizana.

 Colombo (AsiaNews) - In Sri Lanka Muslims and Catholics are mobilizing together to save the life of Rizana Nafeek, the Muslim maid sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia for the alleged murder of a newborn. Yesterday, three mosques in the district of Galle in southern Sri Lanka, hosted prayers in for the girl, and organized a petition to be sent to King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, asking him to grant a pardon and save the life of the young Sinhalese woman.

Fr. George Sigamony, national director of Caritas Sri Lanka, has been working for the release of Rizana since 2007. Since the beginning of this case, he has appealed to all Catholics to pray for the salvation of the girl.

In Galle on 10 December last - the World Day for Human Rights - the imams of three other mosques have shown their solidarity by dedicating a few minutes of the noon prayer for Rizana. They also signed the petition to be sent to the Saudi king. On the same day, many Catholics went to the church of Our Lady of Sorrows in Jaela (Gampaha District) for the weekly novena and signed the "Save Rizana” petition.

A statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission (Ahcr), released today, said that "A campaign entitled" Save Rizana ", organized by Janasansadaya and Ahcr was launched in Galle 10 December 2010, the World Day for Human Rights ". According to that statement, more than 1,500 people participated in this campaign.

The Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has officially asked for a pardon for Rizana, according to an announcement released by the presidential secretariat.

Rizana Nafeek has been locked in a Saudi prison since 2005. The Muslim girl, originally from a poor family in the village of Mutur (the eastern district of Trincomalee), had arrived in Saudi Arabia at just 17 years - with a false passport - to work as a maid. If the sentence is confirmed by the king, she could be executed at any time.

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See also
Sri Lanka's Church and government hope for Rizana Nafeek's release
Sri Lankan Muslim teenager sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia. Appeal of Catholics
King Abdullah, a cautious reformer on the Saudi throne (Overview)
King Fahd, between openness to the US and support for Islamic fundamentalism (Overview)
Migration flows to Saudi Arabia must be regulated to avoid another Rizana Nafeek