Blasphemy case: Ulema council chief demands bail for Rimsha

Published: September 4, 2012

At the press conference, Allama Tahir Ashrafi said his council will provide protection to Rimsha Masih. PHOTO: ONLINE

ISLAMABAD: 

Even vociferous supporters of the blasphemy law have come out in support of Rimsha Masih, the 11-year-old girl allegedly suffering from Down’s Syndrome, who was accused of burning pages inscribed with Quranic verses last month.

At a packed press conference, All Pakistan Ulema Council Chairperson Allama Tahir Ashrafi demanded bail for Rimsha and the trial under the blasphemy act of Khalid Jadoon Chishti, who is accused of planting evidence against the minor and has also been booked under the blasphemy law for allegedly desecrating the Holy Quran.

Accompanied by representatives of the Pakistan Interfaith League, Ashrafi said in a fiery speech that the council itself would provide protection to the girl if the government was scared of a reaction from extremist elements.

Ironically, Ashrafi’s support for Rimsha stems from his concern for the blasphemy law.

“There is a conspiracy to abolish the blasphemy law and investigators (of Rimsha’s case) should expose elements behind this act,” Ashrafi said. “We condemn the reports about the interior ministry’s request to the court to deny bail to Rimsha due to security threats. We are ready to take the responsibility of protecting Rimsha and the court should release her immediately,” he maintained.

The ulema council also sought the formation of a joint investigation team (JIT) to probe the case against Chishti and seriously investigate the conspiracy behind registering an FIR against Rimsha under pressure from the local community.

Implementation of law

Commenting on the blasphemy law, Ashrafi insisted that there was no flaw in the law itself and rather, the problems arose out of its implementation. “Under the law, an FIR in such cases should be registered after a thorough investigation by a Superintendent Police (SP)-level officer, but in most cases, FIRs are registered by SHOs without investigation,” Ashrafi said.

The council chairman also urged that a comprehensive mechanism be put in place to strengthen the implementation process for the blasphemy law.

“The law is being misused due to loopholes in the implementation process. Making a mockery of this important law should end once and for all,” Ashrafi said. “We are treating this case as a test case and it will help discourage the misuse of the blasphemy law,” he added.

Ashrafi noted that Rimsha’s case had tarnished Pakistan’s international image further, and blamed this on the weakness of the government and the inefficiency of law enforcement agencies.

Pakistan Interfaith League Chairperson Sajid Ishaq said evidence proved that Chishti himself disrespected the Holy Quran. He demanded protection not only for her and her family but also for the rest of the Christian community in Pakistan.

Ishaq informed the media that two committees were formed under the supervision of Supreme Court Advocate Gabrial Francis and President of the Tehreek-e-Tahafuz-e-Madaris Maulana Zahid Mehmood Qasmi. One committee is to investigate the Rimsha case and another committee has been given the responsibility of rehabilitating the displaced families of Meherabadi.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 4th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (37)

  • syed imran
    Sep 4, 2012 - 10:12AM

    Khalid Jadoon Chishti, the misguided cleric must be immediately and severely punished so that henceforth no such misguided person desecrate the religion but conducting such brazen acts. The christian community must also rest assure that they are equal citizens of Pakistan and no one can harm them like this.

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  • Imran Con
    Sep 4, 2012 - 10:25AM

    I was about to say something positive about them to be fair since I’d probably be quick to say something about the negative. But, then I got to…
    “There is a conspiracy to abolish the blasphemy law and investigators (of Rimsha’s case) should expose elements behind this act”
    …and it completely ruined it.

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  • QQ
    Sep 4, 2012 - 10:31AM

    good Tahir Shb

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  • Ali
    Sep 4, 2012 - 10:44AM

    hats of to you Mr. Ashrafi, at least someone stood for that poor girl

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  • gp65
    Sep 4, 2012 - 11:20AM

    “Ironically, Ashrafi’s support for Rimsha stems from his concern for the blasphemy law.
    “There is a conspiracy to abolish the blasphemy law and investigators (of Rimsha’s case) should expose elements behind this act,” Ashrafi said.

    I gasped when I read this. How far can you go with your blame the victim mentality? A prayer leader deliberately burns Quran pages to falsely accuse a young illiterate 14 year old girl of blasphemy. The neighbours threaten to kill and burn all Christians in the neighbourhood due to the supposed act of blasphemy by this young one. The young girl has been in jail for over 20 days due to false charges framed by this prayer leader. And somehow this is all a conspiracy to get rid of the blasphemy act?

    I was surprised by your recent OpEd which was quite inconsistent : reasonable and preached tolerance in some places while being remarkable in preaching Muslim supremacy in others.
    Now it is clear. Since the player leader has been caught in his devious act, you are throwing him under the bus to protect your blasphemy act. Rimsha’s well being was never your concern. Sad.

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  • sabi
    Sep 4, 2012 - 11:30AM

    They are mastere of twisting the matter and know the art of fooling general public.Same guys if once convinced heaven falling on them will be the most liberals of the liberals.

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  • jjndkvn
    Sep 4, 2012 - 11:39AM

    Yes, I did think to myself when these people made their statement: these people are more clever than they look. They know their precious law is in danger. Precious lives do not concern them.

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  • asd
    Sep 4, 2012 - 11:53AM

    very nice ashrafi sb.

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  • gp65
    Sep 4, 2012 - 12:10PM

    Ironically, Ashrafi’s support for Rimsha stems from his concern for the blasphemy law.
    “There is a conspiracy to abolish the blasphemy law and investigators (of Rimsha’s case) should expose elements behind this act,” Ashrafi said.

    †he concern for Rimsha was absent until the perfidy of the prayer leader in framing Rimsha was revealed prompting a widespread revulsion. The ulema now are jumping in with sanctimonious speech – not because they feel that young 14 year old deserves better but so that the blasphemy act with all its flaws is left untouched.

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  • hopeful
    Sep 4, 2012 - 12:20PM

    Much appreciated act by Ulema Council and Ashrafi sb.
    Just thinking, if Salman Taseer was alive; what would be his thoughts?

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  • Masood
    Sep 4, 2012 - 12:27PM

    The influential Qabza group behind this drama must be exposed, who all were interested in vacating the Christian basti… who paid and assisted this so called Imam….

    This Illiterate imam must be given maximum punishment under this law…. at least the minorities would be satisfied that if non Muslim could get maximum punishment then there is no sparing of a Muslim who commit such act..

    The blame of mishandling this sensitive situation should also be fixed on CDA administration & Capital Police.They are the one who without investigation brought matter from bad to worse…

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  • Ahmed
    Sep 4, 2012 - 12:35PM

    Pakistan is an Islamic Social State, so the minorities should be free in worshiping their religions within a prescribed limits, it is the true spirit of an Islamic state. So, the Cleric Chishti has to be taken to task, if found involved in this filthy act.

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  • Tooka
    Sep 4, 2012 - 12:43PM

    Every law is misused in Pakistan, lets remove all of them.

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  • Haris
    Sep 4, 2012 - 12:45PM

    He’ll be my hero if he just says to demand an amendment in law, that whoever tries to misuse it or makes false allegations should be punished according to this same law.

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  • Jintoo
    Sep 4, 2012 - 12:57PM

    Christian’s tolerance is ended now, persecution for the last 30-35 years (after Zia reign, before it was better). Being a Christian i can frankly tell you that in our hearts we are fed up being persecuted ad thinking Pakistan is no longer meant for us but for religious fundamentalists. Thanks Tahir saab for speaking up, but why to hand over the girl and her family under mullah’s security and not send her abroad at a safe place??
    Even resolving only this case doesn’t mean happy days will come back and all who were brutally murdered of alleged blasphemy without just trial will come back. A mirror once broken cannot be repaired or if repaired will leave cracks on it, this happened with our hearts too. It’s shed and can never be repaired. What we haven’t given to this nation, our top missionary schools, colleges, hospitals, institutions?? Almost half of Pakistan has benefited from them. They were forcefully taken from us and we remained quiet. How can anyone expect that resolving this issue only would make us cool and calm? It’s not a matter of one case, its a matter of 65 years history, the gone days which would never come back, the loss which can never be filled. Yet thankful to ulma council but our hearts and souls mourns.

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  • Babbi Butt
    Sep 4, 2012 - 12:59PM

    All Pakistani Mullas are Shameless extremists. They have no concern for Islam or Prophet Muhammed (PBUH). By killing and persecuting the very people needing peace and protection promised by Islam these Mullahs have brough only shame to Islam, Prophet (PBUH) and Pakistan.

    Any one with a little knowledge of the world outside Pakistan can see the damage done by these Mullas and always blaming everything on consiparies to cover their Evil deeds.

    I am a Pakistani Muslim and feely deeply pain to see how these extremist mind sets and our corrupt rulers are destroying Pakistan. Rimsha is the age of my daughter, I feel the same pain as if it was my own daughter.

    Rimsha’s case has highlighted a much larger problem in our society where Madrasas are preaching only hatered and continuously churning out terrorist mindsets while impotent leadership is busy runing the country.

    There is no light at the end of the tunnel. What a Shame!!

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  • amjad
    Sep 4, 2012 - 1:41PM

    what the use of these kind of statements. the day they give statement about unity of sects in gb, 26 shias are gunned down by their followers. i don’t have any faith in this kind of statement. they should do something solid to gain trust.

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  • aceleaf
    Sep 4, 2012 - 1:42PM

    Bail be granted on merit. These mullahs are nobody to guide a judge.
    Their demand of bail is only a face saving.

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  • Sep 4, 2012 - 1:51PM

    Vienna,September 4,2012
    Here is a blatant case of interfering with judicial process and
    weakening it further. The need of the hour is to strengthen the
    image of the judiciary and law and order. Institutions should
    earn respect not selective popular backing as in this case.
    I would welcome all efforts of Pakistan to regain confidence
    of all international institutions by following international conventions.
    Taravadu Taranga Trust for Media Monitoring TTTMM India
    –Kulamarva Balakrishna

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  • Naveed Javed
    Sep 4, 2012 - 1:55PM

    Hypocrite!

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  • Khan of Cape Town
    Sep 4, 2012 - 1:56PM

    bail? what bail? just release the poor soul, for God sake.

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  • Ammad Malik
    Sep 4, 2012 - 2:08PM

    @Jintoo

    It’s very hard to remain optimistic in circumstances such as ours. As a muslim, such incidents are of grave concern to me, and also a source of embarrassment – many, in-fact most people, feel this way. Let’s not give into the crazies. Pakistan Zindabad.

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  • Adeel
    Sep 4, 2012 - 2:12PM

    Its a very good initiative taken by the ulema’s by speaking against the wrongdoings committed on purpose under the name of blasphemy.

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  • Samson
    Sep 4, 2012 - 2:16PM

    First time in life, proud to be Christian Pakistani !!!

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  • Parvez
    Sep 4, 2012 - 2:45PM

    Credit goes to Tahir Ashrafi for having the courage to stand up for what he believes and shame on the government for displaying apathy and cowardice.

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  • nitish
    Sep 4, 2012 - 2:52PM

    @gp65: He is demanding now coz the law is going to be exposed .He is shouting just to save the blasphemy law.Its about time ,pakistan judiciary should be tested as the whole world is eyeing upon them.

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  • Hedgefunder
    Sep 4, 2012 - 4:53PM

    These esteemed “Muppets” have too much to loose if this act is abolished from the constitution, hence all this dramas !
    These are the very people who will be responsible for the demise of this Nation ! Recommend

  • John B
    Sep 4, 2012 - 4:54PM

    Rimsha is in judicial custody. As such there is no need for bail and the state has no reason to retain her. State’s inability to protect her is no reason for retaining her in judicial custody.

    Disappointed in Ulema’s reasoning. Suspected that much when I read the opinion piece.

    Preserving the Blasphemy law is that important to Ulema?

    PAK Ulema missed an opportunity to come out in flying colors. I cannot resist in comparing the PAK ulema to India ulema that refused islamic burial for Mumbai terrorists.

    Which ulema is working for the betterment of Islamic theology?

    Grow up, please.

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  • Dr.A.K.Tewari
    Sep 4, 2012 - 5:59PM

    Again conspiracy is being suspected deliberatly to protect this law to continue .
    Repeal this black law immidiatly . There is no need of such law .Recommend

  • Khan
    Sep 4, 2012 - 6:48PM

    @Allama Tahir Ashrafi:
    How many Rimsha’s can you save knowing this country is full of illiteracy and ignorant.
    I’m not a political person but just to put the record straight, Is this not hypocrisy a.k.a Munafiqat that, When Salman Taseer spoke on behalf of another ‘accused’ he got killed but when some one with a beard speaks the same is spared because of his looks?.
    Is this not Sunnah that Prophet (PBUH) himself used to forgive such acts?
    Did HE not forgive and treat that person with respect who used to throw garbage in his way everyday?
    These ignorant imams and Ulema need to choose which way they want to go, do they want to follow the examples and Sunnah, that shows us that Islam is a religion of peace of do they want to show it like some script from a horror movie.

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  • Nwil
    Sep 4, 2012 - 7:05PM

    Ashrafi noted that Rimsha’s case had
    tarnished Pakistan’s international
    image further, and blamed this on the
    weakness of the government and the
    inefficiency of law enforcement
    agencies.

    What insanity! No, Pakistan’s image is tarnished because it has brought a ridiculous and barbaric case for a victimless “crime” against a little girl with Down syndrome! Civilized countries do not have the death penalty and certainly do not have “blasphemy” laws! Recommend

  • Ordinary person
    Sep 4, 2012 - 7:23PM

    Thank you all the Ulemas who are demanding the bail of Rimsha and standing up for non muslims.

    What if she was burned alive by the mob? (Case closed. wait for another blasphemy case)
    What if her parents were burned alive? (Read the news and feel sorry case closed)

    If a non muslim could be killed (burned alive) by the mobs without trial what punishment should master mind behind Rimsha case be given? (Publicly burned alive)

    What about the 2000 people who burned the houses of Christians & attacked them not only this they even destroyed the government property why there is no arrest made what punishment should they get? Don’t they fall under blasphemy law, why they are still walking freely?

    What do Ulema have to say about the lawyer Rao Abdur Raheem bitter comments we have many Mumtaz Qadri in the country. If Rimsha or her parents are not protected then lawyer Rao should be punished under blasphemy law for awaking new Mumtaz Qadri.

    If non muslims are treated as equal citizens and you want to keep the blasphemy law then eye for an eye. the 2000 people including Jadoon should be punished immediately.

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  • major-ji
    Sep 5, 2012 - 12:53AM

    @gp65:
    To me you seem to be the intelligent soul to grasp the whole episode in its true sense. This is the bad luck of this nation that it is driven with firey and sentimental speeches of its Mullahs. Without understanding what their intentions are. Please keep the pressure up for the right interpretation of intent of Mullahs.

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  • Danish Akhundzada
    Sep 5, 2012 - 9:01AM

    Thank you Moulan Tahir Ashrafi and your colleagues on the council. May Allah similarly guide you further in thinking deeply about the blashpemy law.

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  • kiran
    Sep 5, 2012 - 9:39AM

    What i dont get is if everybody knows that there are loopholes in the implementation of law, and our officials can never be competent enough for the next many years to come than why are we allowing killing of so many innocent people/kids just in the name of religion?

    And most ironic thing is that people are still trying to spend most of their energies over protecting the law rather than putting an end to the same which is leading to slaughtering of so many innocent people.The question here is NOT WHETHER LAW IS CORRECT OR NOT, BUT THE QUESTION IS WHY TO HAVE SUCH A LAW WHICH IS LEADING TO SLAUGHTERING OF SO MANY INNOCENT PEOPLE? No religion gives leverage to its followers to kill any person just because he/she abused the religion. We are going back into stone-age rather than becoming a progressive country.

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  • wolfie loves kulfie
    Sep 5, 2012 - 5:20PM

    so these guys are supporting the girl because she is innocent and wrongly incarcerated using blasphemy law

    or

    they are supporting her case has become strong grounds to remove the blasphemy law which has caused not just a mess internally but also externally image of Pakistan putting its own people against each other

    its no brainier this blasphemy law has to go using 18 th century concepts like this in 21st century just wont work , its like turning back time .Recommend

  • Dr.A.KTewari
    Sep 5, 2012 - 6:39PM

    They can’t think deeply on blashphemy law as they are the superficial followers of Islam . They call followers five times a day through loudspeakers to create sound pollution but don’t know that Allah resides in the hearts, if it is pious .Recommend

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