Rimsha bailed on blasphemy charges: The Church of England Newspaper, September 16, 2012 p 5. September 20, 2012Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Pakistan.
Tags: Blasphemy Laws, Rehman Malik, Rimsha Masih
Rimsha Masih, the mentally disabled Christian girl jailed for blasphemy in Islamabad has been released from prison on bail.
She was freed on 7 September 2012 followed a statement made by Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik to the senate that his investigation revealed the girl had not left her home on the day she was alleged to have burned pages from a Koran. He further stated that a medical examination found the girl to have a mental age of 7, though she was approximately 14 years of age.
The judge hearing the case released Rimsha on bail after her attorneys argued that the arrest of her accuser, a Muslim cleric, on charges of fabricating the evidence against her raised reasonable doubts about her guilt.
On 16 August Rimsha was taken into custody after she was accused of burning pages of the Koran. The leader of mosque in Mehrabadi, a mixed Muslim-Christian neighborhood outside Islamabad, filed a complaint with the police alleging the young girl had committed blasphemy – a crime punishable by death under the Pakistani penal code.
An anti-Christian pogrom ensued in Mehrabadi and the Pakistani press reported that approximately 1000 Christian families fled the neighborhood in fear for their lives. Rimsha and her mother were had been kept in custody since 16 Aug for their own protection, the interior minister told the senate.
The arrest of Rimsha Masih has focused international attention upon Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, which critics charge is used to intimidate Christians for personal and business reasons. It has also sparked a backlash within the majority Muslim community. A prominent conservative cleric, Tahir Ashrafi, defended Rimsha against the charge of blasphemy, describing her to reporters as the “daughter of the nation.”
After a minority rights group gave a £6500 bond to the court, Rimsha was released from custody. She is being kept in seclusion, a spokesman for the minorities group said, pending the outcome of her case.
First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.