Pakistans 14-year-old Rimsha Found Innocent

November 20, 2012 by Open Doors in General

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The case against Rimsha Masih, the teenage Pakistani Christian girl, was dropped on Tuesday, Nov 20, by the court in the Pakistani capital Islamabad. Rimsha, who was arrested in August on suspicion of desecrating Islamic texts, was originally charged in an adult court with blasphemy; there the penalty was life imprisonment. Her case was subsequently transferred to the juvenile court after her age was certified, and medical evidence emerged that her mental capacity was impaired. Amid controversy and a myriad of twists and turns, Rimsha’s lawyer Akmal Bhatti, claimed on Tuesday that her case had been a misuse of law saying, “The court has quashed the case, declaring Rimsha innocent.”

Rimsha Masih’s case has triggered a debate over 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.”

Rimsha’s arrest prompted widespread international condemnation of Pakistan’s anti-blasphemy laws. Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari ordered an investigation, and said the law must not be used to settle personal scores. Prominent Muslim clerics in Pakistan urged the courts not to rush to judgment under public pressure, though the blasphemy law is also widely popular among many ordinary Pakistanis. In Jan 2011, the powerful Governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer, was killed by his own bodyguard for publicly urging reform of the blasphemy laws. His assassination divided Pakistani opinion, with many hailing the bodyguard as a hero for what he’d done.

In another case of alleged misuse of blasphemy laws, a Christian mother-of-five, Asia Bibi, was sentenced to death in November 2010 for insulting the Prophet Muhammad. She remains in prison.
Khalid Jadoon, imam of a mosque close to Rimsha’s former family home in the Mehrabad sector of Islamabad, now faces a charge of making a false accusation. Earlier in the case, three witnesses testified that the imam had planted false evidence in her bag. They later recanted their testimony alleging police forced the testimony.

So far, there’s been no response from Rimsha or her family, who remain in hiding at an undisclosed location. Rimsha’s attorneys say she and her family never can return to their home. Earlier reports that the family had been secreted away to Norway were denied by the Norwegian Embassy in Pakistan and by Pakistan’s Minister of National Harmony, Paul Bhatti, who told us last month “Mizrek Masih’s family is in Pakistan and in our protection.”

Father, on this Thanksgiving day we pour forth thanks for the release of Rimsha and pray for her protection. We continue to pray for Asia Bibi and others who remain in prison on false charges of blasphemy. We pray for You to overrule in Pakistan that the blasphemy laws might be reformed or eliminated. In the name of Jesus who has heard our pleas on behalf of Rimsha, Amen.

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