Saturday, March 23, 2013

Another Pakistan shocker: After being acquitted of blasphemy, the case against Christian teenager, Rimsha Masih, is to be reopened

By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

ISLAMABAD PAKISTAN (ANS) -- Following the recent savage violence against Christians in a poverty-stricken Lahore ghetto on Saturday, March 9, 2013, during which a frenzied Muslim mob of about 3,000 people burned down about 200 homes and two churches, comes more shocking news.

Rimsha Masih's original
arrest picture
It is that we learned that the blasphemy case against Rimsha Masih, an illiterate 14-year-old Christian girl from a suburb of Islamabad, who was arrested on August 16, 2012 (and later acquitted earlier this year) is to be reopened.

A neighbor had accused Rimsha of burning papers containing verses from the Quran, in breach of Pakistan's strict blasphemy laws, but on September 22, 2012, police investigating the case declared prayer leader Khalid Jadoon Chishti guilty, adding that there was no evidence against Rimsha and that he had framed her.

Then on January 16, 2013, Pakistan's Supreme Court (SC) dismissed a so-called final appeal against Rimsha in her blasphemy case, which was supposed to have effectively ended all legal proceedings on the issue.
But now, her counsel Abdul Hameed Rana has told The Lahore Times on telephone that Rimsha's complaint has filed an application in the apex court to review the decision of the Islamabad High Court (IHC).

"According to the sources, Malik Ummad, Rimsha's accuser, sought to re-open Rimsha's case through his lawyer who filed an appeal against the lower court's acquittal," said a story in The Lahore Times.
Prosecutors were trying to reopen the case to get the Christian girl convicted.

The bench that made the "final decision", included the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Iftikhtar Muhammad Chaudhary, Justices Sh. Azmat Saeed and Justice Gulzar Ahmad and sources say that they are beginning to hear the case again today (Friday, March 22, 2013).

At the time of writing, it was not decided yet who will represent Rimsha in the apex court.

ANS Pakistan correspondent, Shamim Masih, who has been following the case now for us, said, "It is doubted that if this case is not handled properly, it may open new chapter in the history of blasphemy cases in Pakistan."

An angry mob gathered after burning Christian houses and churches in Lahore, Pakistan
In the other case against Sawan Masih, a 35-year-old Christian street sweeper, and the subsequent attacks on Christian homes and churches, so outraged Pakistani Christians that decided that they had had enough of the constant persecution they have suffered for many years and took to the streets of Lahore (and other cities in the country,) to protest against the terrible violence they had suffered.

The complainant, Imran Shahid, is said to have been Sawan's close friend during the past eight years. On the basis of his complaint, a First Information Report (FIR) was lodged against Sawan at the Badami Bagh Police Station (where the violence erupted) and he is being held in police custody.

"Initially the police held Sawan's father, Chaman Masih, and beat him severely, but he was then released after his constant denial of the accusations. 

Following these events, Sawan was finally handed over to the police on Friday, March 8th - a day prior to the attack," said a source.

Sawan Masih is accused of blasphemy
LEAD (Legal Evangelical Association Development) Chief Advocate Sardar Mushtaq Gill said, "Christians are feeling insecure in Pakistan and remain always under threats of a religious mindset, especially due to the misuse of blasphemy laws against them."

He went on to say, "Almost every person I have talked to condemned the brutal terrorist attack on Christians."

Now, with this latest news of the possible retrial of Rimsha Masih, Pakistan-watchers are wondering when these constant attacks on Pakistan's beleaguered Christian community will end. Surely, they are saying, it is now time for the government of Pakistan to step in and ensure that these travesties of justice be halted, and thus restore the reputation of their country.

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