When will Rimsha be released?

Published: September 4, 2012
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The Christian Church is once again appealing to do something about a law that, as now proved beyond all doubt, is causing harm to Pakistan. PHOTO: REUTERS

The Christian Church is once again appealing to do something about a law that, as now proved beyond all doubt, is causing harm to Pakistan. PHOTO: REUTERS

A 12-year-old daughter of Pakistan, Rimsha Masih, is in jail without bail for burning pages of Quranic verses even after the police found she was victimised through a trumped-up charge by a local cleric determined to oust the Christian community from the village of Mehrabad, near Islamabad. She suffers from Downs’s syndrome and may not understand why she is being maltreated. Even after the discovery that the cleric was indulging in a criminal plot against the Christian community, she has not been allowed to return home on bail.

A crowd was organised to oust the Christian community upon appeals from mosque loudspeakers. The mob went to the house of Rimsha and started kicking the door asking the parents to hand her over. They finally entered the house and gave a beating to the little girl and her mother. Following this, the police were informed, who immediately took the girl away and put her in jail under the ‘non-bailable’ black law. The Capital Development Authority has reassured those who were evacuated that they will be returned to their homes and their tormentors will be forced under law to relent. The displaced families were made to move to another place where the local inhabitants refused to let them stay temporarily because they feared ‘incidence of crime due to their presence’.

The shock administered by this case of blasphemy has been felt inside Pakistan. It has deepened the despair the outside world feels about our country; and the Christian Church is once again appealing to do something about a law that, as now proved beyond all doubt, is causing harm to Pakistan and its reputation.

This happened on August 16, on the 27th of Ramazan, thus further raising suspicions as to when Rimsha was put in confinement. A few days ago, even after a witness alerted the authorities that the cleric had cooked up the story of burning the Holy Quran by putting scarred pages in a bag that Rimsha was carrying, the police have still not released her. The judiciary is silent so far but the Supreme Court should take suo-motu notice and get the girl placed in a better environment which her age, her health and her innocence deserve.

What people have always said about the law and are still saying is this: “In blasphemy cases, the state institutions just try to defuse the pressure of accusers by registering a case against the accused”. Both the police and the judiciary take the side of the accuser. During the last two decades or so, more than 1,000 cases of blasphemy have been registered and it is believed that a vast majority of these cases were fake. Not even a single accuser in these fake cases has been convicted, implying that the state patronises the accusers at some level.

Laws are usually made after criminal acts are observed in society. In this case, criminal acts have followed the enforcement of the law. The victimisation follows a familiar pattern. In February 1997, the twin villages of Shantinagar-Tibba Colony, 12 kilometres east of Khanewal, in Multan division, were looted and burnt by 20,000 Muslim citizens and 500 policemen. The police first evacuated the Christian population of 15,000, then helped the raiders use battlefield explosives to blow up their houses and property.

In November 2005, the Christian community of Sangla Hill in Nankana district in Punjab experienced a most hair-raising day of violence and vandalism. Three churches, a missionary-run school, two hostels and several houses belonging to the Christian community were destroyed by an enraged mob of some 3,000 people.

The Supreme Court must act to save Rimsha Masih and, thereafter, declare the blatant misuse and abuse of the blasphemy law against the spirit of Islam and against the ‘grundnorm’ of the Constitution. Or, is it true that like the politicians, the institutions of the state are too scared to act?

Published in The Express Tribune, September 5th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (22)

  • Faiza aziz
    Sep 4, 2012 - 9:36PM

    Rimsha masih has seen the true face of our faithful people.They use religion to persecute non-muslims,they use religion to make ex-muslims and non-muslims feel like second class citizens in their own country.It’s time these laws got removed from our legal system.They violate the most basic freedom,the most basic right of any human.
    You can’t put locks on people’s thoughts,you can’t persecute people like this.

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  • Thoughtful
    Sep 4, 2012 - 9:39PM

    Shame

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  • Raw is War
    Sep 4, 2012 - 9:46PM

    never?

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  • Hasan Abidi
    Sep 4, 2012 - 10:33PM

    @ Faiza Aziz:

    Cant agree more with ya.

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  • shahid
    Sep 4, 2012 - 10:51PM

    The Supreme Court must act to save Rimsha Masih and, thereafter, declare the blatant misuse and abuse of the blasphemy law against the spirit of Islam and against the ‘grundnorm’ of the Constitution. Or, is it true that like the politicians, the institutions of the state are too scared to act?

    Has the SC not acted in many many cases already, Baluchistan, missing persons, reported killing of girls in KP, and countless others? And have they not been told not to be too pro-active by esteemed editorial writers and columnists such as this one? What exactly has been done to stop the litany of propaganda that has been carefully planned and started against the SC for the courageous steps that they have taken, by this paper or others in the media except some hardly visible hand wringing and looking the other way?

    When will you ask the government which actually has the power to do something also? Where are condemnations of their silence on this issue? Why are they not being asked questions about it? If the SC takes any action you will be among the first ones to cirticize them for being too over active.

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  • reader
    Sep 4, 2012 - 11:21PM

    enough of suo moto notices. police aithorities should be asked to withdraw the fir as fake. the power of suo moto should be taken away from the judiciary through a constitutional amendment.

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  • Mirza
    Sep 5, 2012 - 12:03AM

    Let us demand not just hope that the secular coalition govt releases the young kid immediately from jail. Zardari should use his presidential pardon (to avoid the legal FIR and cases) and bring the kid out of jail to her home with adequate compensation.
    The SC may have taken up some such cases but they need to make decisions not statements. If this law imposed by the dictator is constitutional or not? The SC has never declared a single law imposed by the army dictators as unconstitutional. However, they are in the forefront of challenging the elected parliament.
    It is time NS and PML has to prove that they don’t like this law and vote for its repeal with the ruling coalition.

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  • Asok
    Sep 5, 2012 - 1:39AM

    Repeal

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  • Cautious
    Sep 5, 2012 - 3:40AM

    So where are your political leaders on this issue? The silence is deafening.

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  • C. Nandkishore
    Sep 5, 2012 - 5:28AM

    Thank god for the wisdom of 1947 All India Congress Committee.

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  • Pashtun voice
    Sep 5, 2012 - 6:49AM

    This is heart breaking for me. I find it hard to believe that the people of that locality would beat up Rimsha and her mother. I guess I have just observed how low humanity can stoop in order to fulfil its greedy desires.

    Shame on the gov’t for not taking a stand for little Rimsha. I hope they lose massively in the next elections because it is only because of elections they are quiet.

    Shame on the SC for not taking a suo-moto against such blatant barbarity where as suo-motos have been taken in such mundane cases like Atiqa Odho getting caught with alcohol.

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  • s shah
    Sep 5, 2012 - 9:53AM

    Please release this child and repeal this black blasphemy law. How would we feel if one of our children was in solitary confinemnent in an adult male jail ? Please wake up Pakistan! How much more injustice in the name of religion?

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  • Ris
    Sep 5, 2012 - 1:26PM

    This is a fake campaign. The photo used in the campaign, protests etc. is also fake. http://citizensfordemocracy.wordpress.com/2012/08/25/the-photo-being-used-with-the-rimsha-masih-campaign-is-fake-and-misleading/
    There is no video footage of the girl. Does this girl even exist? Do not believe everything you read.

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  • Dan
    Sep 5, 2012 - 2:07PM

    @Ris:
    You sir are amazing. A stalwart proof of whats wrong with the country.

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  • Arif
    Sep 5, 2012 - 4:39PM

    @shahid: You said my point of view so well – so I don’t need to repeat the same thing.

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  • zeeshan sheikh
    Sep 5, 2012 - 6:26PM

    Rimsha will be released soon IshAllah but liberals when Dr. Aafia will be released . why not this question???

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  • Aftab Kenneth Wilson
    Sep 5, 2012 - 8:14PM

    I think we must focus on this law and ask ” When will the nation see released from this man made law ”.

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  • naive
    Sep 5, 2012 - 8:29PM

    @zeeshan sheikh:
    When will Sarabjeet Singh will be released? Why not this question?

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  • Bhatti Bhai
    Sep 5, 2012 - 9:56PM

    @Ris
    I dont see any video footage of you or pictures of you. I dont know if you exist.Recommend

  • Sep 6, 2012 - 12:36PM

    The law, that provides dignity honor and respect to the prophet(pbh )can never be changed or made subject to amendment.
    Muslims in the subcontinent in the whole world as well wouldn’t tolerate desecration of holy book at any cost.
    Screaming rising in some western states and approaching Pakistan are useless and baseless,regarding amendment in the relevant law.

    The states as above mentioned should change their track and teach the people how to respect the religions of others,that is better.

    As for as ,Rimsha’s case is concerned,it needs high ,level investigation.
    Some days after the incident,it reveals that prayer leader of the mosque is involved in the crime provided new directions to the investigation.Fair prob is the only solution of this complicated matter.

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  • Kakachuna.
    Sep 7, 2012 - 1:50PM

    She has been released on bail today but she is in no less danger….even if the government deputes security, its not freedom. The only way out is for her and her family to settle somewhere other than Pakistan.

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  • Malik
    Sep 24, 2012 - 1:55PM

    forgive her she is to young right now or from the story they must be poor so don’t tease them any more forgive them.

    Our Prophet (PBUH) also teach us to forgive others so forgive her

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