Monday, September 3, 2012

Christians across Pakistan protest and call for the ‘urgent release’ of a 14-year-old girl arrested in a ‘fabricated case’ of blasphemy

It follows the arrest of an imam charged in a ‘Quran plot’ of planting evidence

By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

Pakistani Christians carry crosses during a protest against the imprisonment of Rimsha Masih, a Christian girl accused of blasphemy, in Hyderabad, Pakistan, Sunday

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN (ANS) -- Following the news that a Pakistani imam has been remanded in custody, accused of planting pages of the Quran among burnt pages in the bag of Rimsha Masih, a 14-year-old Christian girl, Christians across Pakistanis have held a protest rallies demanding her immediate release.

The protests came after the media reported that Imam Khalid Chishti had allegedly told a witness, after tampering with the girl's bag, that this was a “way of getting rid of Christians”, a prosecutor said, and now he will himself face charges of blasphemy.

The imam was arrested after his deputy Maulvi Zubair and two others told a magistrate he added pages from the Quran to the burnt pages brought to him by a witness,” an investigator Munir Hussain Jaffri said.
He said Mr. Zubair and some others had told the imam not to interfere, urging him to “give the evidence to the police as he got it”.

The accused Imam being brought blindfolded
into court
According to Mr. Jaffri, Imam Chishti had told them: “You know this is the only way to expel the Christians from this area.”

The investigator said the cleric had been arrested at his home on Saturday under Pakistan's blasphemy law.

“By putting these pages in the ashes he also committed desecration of the Holy Quran and he is being charged with blasphemy,” he said.

The girl's lawyer told AFP news agency that Rimsha “should be acquitted immediately”, as it had been “fully proven that it was a conspiracy”.

Protesters in Rawalpindi
Now ANS has been told by Shamim Masih, an ANS correspondent in Pakistan and also a human rights activist, a group called the Pakistan United Christian Movement (PUCM) organized a Demonstration on Sunday, September 02, 2012, outside of St. John’s School, Rawalpindi.

Mr. Masih told ANS that Albert David, Chairman of the Executive Committee of PUCM, appealed to the Pakistan government to immediately release Rimsha saying, “The real culprit has been arrested yet the girl is still in jail.”

He went on to say, “Failure to do so, points to a bleak future for the minorities in this country.

The time has come for Christian in Pakistan to be treated equally in all spheres of life.”

Mr. Masih said that the rally protestors were holding placards and banners, demanding equal citizenship for Christian and the ending of discriminatory practices.

He added that PUCH made a number of recommendations to the government which included steps to be taken for solve the problems that all minorities in the country face in accordance with the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

It also called for the various blasphemy laws should be “revisited” an also the victims of blasphemy allegations that have not yet been proved, should be released.”

Shamim Masih added there were with other Christian, religious and social reformers, who also made speeches there at the rally.

Another large protest rally took place in Hyderabad, Pakistan, on Sunday, when Christians carrying crosses called for justice for the young girl.

Also reports are coming into ANS reveal that other protest rallies have taken place across the United Kingdom and also outside the United Nations in New York and if she is not free immediately, the groundswell of protests are expected to spread around the world.

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