Landmark Decision: Blasphemy Charge against Teenage Pakistani Christian Dropped
SANTA ANA, Calif. (Nov. 20, 2012) – Open Doors News reports today that the case against Rimsha Masih, the teenage Pakistani Christian girl accused of blasphemy, was dropped by a court in Islamabad today.
In response to the verdict, Rimsha’s lawyer, Akmal Bhatti, said her case had been a misuse of law. “The court has quashed the case, declaring Rimsha innocent,” he said.
Khalid Jadoon, the imam of Mehrabadi mosque who had been accused of planting evidence on Rimsha, will now be tried for making a false accusation.
So far, there has been no response from Rimsha or her family, who remain in hiding. Other Christians who fled the Meherabadi neighborhood to avoid Muslim anger over Rimsha’s alleged offence have tried to return to their homes. But Rimsha’s lawyers say she and her family can never go home.
“First case of its kind”
Rimsha was arrested on Aug. 16 on suspicion of desecrating Islamic texts. She was originally charged in an adult court, where the penalty for blasphemy was life imprisonment, but her case was subsequently transferred to a juvenile court after her age was certified, and medical evidence emerged that her mental capacity was impaired.
Since then her case has received international media attention and has triggered a debate on how Pakistan’s strict blasphemy laws are being used to settle personal scores and vendettas.
“This is the first case of its kind when a person charged under the strict blasphemy laws is exonerated from the accusation,” said Naveed Chaudry, another of Rimsha’s lawyers. “This case has also brought for the first time a debate on how these laws are misused to target innocent people.”
Pakistan’s blasphemy laws have been especially in the spotlight since a Christian mother-of-five, Aasiya Noreen Bibi, was sentenced to death in November 2010 for insulting the Prophet Muhammad. She remains in prison.
Open Doors USA launched an advocacy campaign earlier this fall on behalf of Rimsha. Over 4,000 people sent emails to Sherry Rehman, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States, asking for justice for Rimsha. For the latest news on how you can take action for persecuted Christians like Rimsha, go to http://advocacy.opendoorsusa.org/.
“This is great news for Rimsha and her family,” says Jerry Dykstra, Media Relations Director for Open Doors USA. “The prayers of people around the world, especially on the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church earlier this month, have been answered. And thanks to all the people who advocated on her behalf.”
Praise God that the charges against Rimsha have been dropped
Pray for continued protection for Rimsha and her family and for a safe place to relocate
Remember Aasiya Noreen Bibi, who remains in prison on blasphemy charges. Pray for her release
Pray Rimsha’s case will prompt the re-evaluation and abolition of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws
An estimated 100 million Christians worldwide suffer interrogation, arrest and even death for their faith in Christ, with millions more facing discrimination and alienation. Open Doors supports and strengthens believers in the world’s most difficult areas through Bible and Christian literature distribution, leadership training and assistance, Christian community development, prayer and presence ministry and advocacy on behalf of suffering believers. To partner with Open Doors USA, call toll free at 888-5-BIBLE-5 (888-524-2535) or go to our Website at www.OpenDoorsUSA.org.
(For more information or to set up an interview, contact Jerry Dykstra at 616-915-4117 or email [email protected])