Rimsha Masih’s rescue from a potential death sentence for being accused of breaking Pakistan’s Blasphemy Laws should be noted to be a team effort of Christians, especially Pakistani Christians and Muslim sympathizers of Christians. Here is some thoughts of the behind the scenes actions to liberate Rimsha.
A Christian 14 years girl, Rimsha
By Shamim Masih
Sent: 11/21/2012 2:02 PM
The news and views
ISLAMABAD PAKISTAN (SHAMIM MASIH): It was around mid night in Pakistan, a young Christian girl was brought in the Ramna Police Station, Islamabad accused of blasphemy law, FIR was registered against her and the very next day, she was sent to jail.
Due to the fear, about 250 Christian families were living in the said area, fled during the mean time. Displaced families tried to settle down in jungle but the local residents chased them and didn’t allow them to live there for the time being although Capital Development Authority (CDA) chairman told them to set their tents for the time being.
Rimsha was released on bail after three weeks and had drawn international condemnation and concern about the rights of religious minorities in the predominantly Muslim country. Finally Islamabad High Court decided to throw out the case which was baseless that no one has seen her burning the pages of Quran.
Pakistani Christians has welcomed the IHC decision and appreciated the efforts of administration.
Here I am presenting the views of few Pakistani Christians:
Akram Masih Gill (Minister of the State for National Harmony) said that it’s really victory of law. He thanked the cooperation of the administration, lawyers and media for putting hands together to win the national solidarity and peace harmony in the country. It has also been proved that blasphemy law is misused and the present government has shown its interest in it which shows that misuse of the law will not be tolerated, he added.
Akram Gill said that it’s really victory for the Christians nation and we believe that the day has come when we need to work hard for the unity of the Pakistani Christians. Especially in Rimsha case Pakistani Muslim Ullmas have played a positive role and saved the Christians people of the said vicinity from any ambiguity, he added.
Akram Gill has also arranged the temporary livings for the displaced Christians families of Rimsha case with the coordination of chairman Capital Development Authority in H-9/2 Islamabad and he said that he is also working on the alternate permanent living for those families. He went to Mardan Church right after the incident happened. He said that he always stand with the nation and would work to save his people.
Tahir Naveed Chaudhary (MPA and Rimsha’s lawyer): He is the man who staked his life and went to save the daughter of the nation, knowing the results of two government officials, (Salman Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti). Tahir Naveed Chaudhary Sarghoda based and selected minority member on Pakistan People’s Party seat in Punjab Assembly.
Tahir Naveed said the Islamabad High Court’s decision to throw out the case was based on the fact that no one had seen her burning pages of the Quran. The case provoked international concern and she could, in theory, have face execution under Pakistan’s blasphemy law despite her age and reported mental problems. I have seen him running in the court premises during the sun and rain. Tahir Naveed is wonderful man having heart for Christians.
Basharat Khokhar was seen in every picture during the proceedings of the Rimsha case in the local courts, protecting his lawyer like hundreds of other Christians who witnessed the court hearings as a gesture of sympathy with the minor girl in the case. She was feared to receive the death sentence. In the tight security in Adyala Jail Rawalpindi, where Rimsha was waiting for her bail, on September 8, 2012 Basharat as employee of police and being a Christian was deployed to provide adequate security to accused Christian girl to escort her to a helicopter from the armed vehicle in the jail compound. Basharat is seen all around.
Since Ayub Masih, a Christian, was convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to death in 1998, no one has ever been saved. But it’s the first time that in Pakistani history.
In August 2009, six Christians, including 4 women and a child, were burnt alive by Muslim militants and their house as well as church set ablaze in Gojra, Pakistan when violence broke out after alleged desecration of a Quran in a wedding ceremony by Christians. And the same sound was heard in this area too, But this brave man has kept the situation cool and calm in the said being a police man he had been in touch……
On 2 March 2011, the only Christian Minister in the Pakistani government was shot dead. Shahbaz Bhatti, minister for minorities, was shot died. He was targeted for opposing the anti-free speech blasphemy law, which punishes insulting Islam or its prophet. A fundamentalist Muslim group claimed responsibility. Those fundamentalist are threatening him now and they had tried to tie him in the fake case of blasphemy law but luckily he was saved and judge declared him innocent.
Mr. Basharat Khokhar started receiving life threats from unknown people in month of October 2012, on his cell phone, which he brought immediately in notice of his high officials who transferred him to a police station in suburbs of Islamabad to ensure his safety.
The threats of killing Mr. Basharat Khokhar not stopped on which he and his family are living in fear and not moving outside home for minor shopping of daily grocery and sending their children to school.
Talking to Pakistan Christian Post, Mr. Basharat Khokar said that he and his family are not feeling safe in Pakistan because Islamists believe that he knows where Rimsha is hiding who is liable to be killed for [the accusation of] defiling pages of Holy Quran.
Basharat Khokhar told PCP “Islamists threat that I am also liable to be killed for hiding Rimsha, a blasphemer, while he is not aware of her hiding place nor is he in any contact with her or her family.
Dr. Nazir Bhatti said that blasphemy law is being abused to settle scores against religious minorities in Pakistan and judgment on Rimsha case have proved it. PCC demands to reopen all cases lodged under blasphemy law against Christians, said Nazir Bhatti.
Dr. Nazir Bhatti added that there are more than dozen innocent Christians behind bars waiting for their trials in blasphemy cases who have been accused on business rivalry or petty disputes with Muslim complainants.
Edited by John R. Houk
Christian Rights Activist