Rimsha blasphemy case: Cleric acquitted for want of evidence
19 Aug 2013
Islamabad: August 19, 2013. (LEAD) A Pakistani court on Saturday acquitted prime suspect Khalid Chishti of all charges as six out of eight eyewitnesses retracted
from their statements in a blasphemy case accusing a mentally-challenged Christian teenage girl.
The girl, Rimsha Masih, was arrested in August 2012 for allegedly burning pages containing Quranic verses but the case against her, which drew widespread international condemnation, was quashed, on this proof that Muslim cleric has added pages from the Holy Quran to ashes to make the case stronger against Christian girl and on the imam of a mosque, allegedly issued a decree on his mosque’s loudspeaker to burn Christians of the Mehrabadi village alive and dozens of Christian families fled from their houses to save their lives.
Asia Bibi, a Christian mother of five, remains in prison after being sentenced to death in November 2010 after other women claimed she made derogatory remarks about the Prophet Mohammed.
Sawan Masih, a 35-year-old Pakistani street sweeper, who was falsely accused of blasphemy by a close friend. He is now awaiting justice in his release.
In 2011, politicians Salmaan Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti were assassinated for demanding that the blasphemy law be reformed and this demand is still continue by Pakistani Christians and other minority groups. An accusation of blasphemy commonly subjects the accused, police, lawyers, and judges to harassment, threats, attacks and extra judicial killing. An accusation is sometimes the prelude to vigilantism and rioting as it happened in Gojra and Lahore. Those who are accused of blasphemy including their family members have to face many hardships and to move from one place to other for their safety of lives and this is not for years rather it is for whole life. Pakistani Christian immediately were booked in blasphemy cases without investigation and on this plea that there were much pressure on Police, but if the accused is Muslim then they have many ways to investigate and try to save them from this serious and deadly allegation.
Advocate Sardar Mushtaq Gill, Director LEAD said that we were disappointed on the judgment of the court in the case of Hafiz Khalid Chishti who tempered the evidence by adding Quranic pages into ashes in the case of Rimsha Masih. This is our strong demand to Government of Pakistan to repeal all such discriminatory laws including blasphemy laws which were just promulgated to save Islamic Faith and to target Non-believers of Islamic Faith and make ensure our religious freedom and expression of thought in Pakistan according to our Christian faith and values.
The teenager has now settled in Canada with her family, the Canadian government has supported them.