Paul Bhatti hopes abuse of blasphemy law will end

Disclosure about tempering with blasphemy-related evidence will discourage future accusers to misuse this law: Bhatti

Afp September 04, 2012

ISLAMABAD: The arrest of a payer leader for tampering with evidence against a Christian girl accused of blasphemy will help stop the abuse of Pakistan's blasphemy law, Paul Bhatti, the Minister for National Harmony said.

The young Christian, Rimsha Masih, has been in custody for nearly three weeks after she was accused of burning pages containing verses from the Holy Quran in a case that has prompted worldwide concern.

The affair took an unexpected twist on Saturday when the imam who first gave police evidence against her was accused by his deputy of adding pages from the Holy Quran to the burnt papers taken from Rimsha.

Activists say the legislation is often abused to settle personal vendettas, and even unproven allegations can prompt a violent public response - in July a mob stormed a police station in central Pakistan to seize and lynch a mentally unstable man accused of burning the Holy Quran.

But it is rare to see anyone investigated for making a false allegation or interfering with evidence of blasphemy.

"It is a good omen. The deputy imam has revealed the truth and it will be helpful to deal with the future blasphemy cases," Bhatti told AFP in an interview on Monday.

"The disclosure about the tempering with the evidence will discourage future accusers to misuse this law."

Bhatti is Pakistan's only Christian cabinet minister. His brother and predecessor Shahbaz was gunned down last year for speaking out against the blasphemy law.

Rimsha, who is "uneducated" and has a mental age of less than 14 according to a medical report, will remain in a high-security prison until Friday at the earliest - by which time she will have spent 22 days in custody.

Judge Muhammad Azam Khan, who has repeatedly delayed bail proceedings for Rimsha, again adjourned the matter on Monday after the lawyer for her accuser asked for a stay to show solidarity with a provincial lawyers' strike.


Farrukh khan | 9 years ago | Reply

Reply to Khan of Cape Town

Sir, are you trying to threaten Dr. Bhatti? He lost his brother. Pls. Think before you comment it can give a Wong signal. Christians and Muslims have live in harmony since the creation of Pakitan. Christians from armed forces have given great sacrifices we have war heroes like Cecil Choudry and many who gave life for the country.

J Ndluli | 9 years ago | Reply

Pakistan you need to realize that you cannot have a law (anti-blasphemy) that is protecting the religious rights of one group (Muslims) over any another. This approach is discriminatory. Either you need to have a 'general' anti-blasphemy law that protects all religious groups/ practices OR get rid of the current law in its entirety. Look to the West as examples of freedom of speech and freedom of association. Pakistan has much to learn....!

This current debacle & intrigue is not the first time that false witness/accusations have been made, against a non-Muslim group, and it will not be the last. The world is appalled that Pakistan is 'happy to do nothing' and to let this appalling and archaic situation continue. Shame.

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