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Dec-03-2012 00:33printcomments

Pakistan's Blasphemy Laws Don't Protect Religious Harmony

Social and Political leadership express concern about the IHC decision in the Rimsha case.

Rimsha on her release
Rimsha on her release

(ISLAMABAD, Pakistan) - Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday, 20th November, 2012 dismissed blasphemy charges against Rimsha, a Christian teenager girl whose case prompted international outrage.

Islamabad High Court found that the accusations against her were legally unsound, said Abdul Hameed Rana, one of the Rimsha’s lawyers. She is a free woman now, like any other Pakistani citizen, he added.

Now that her case is dismissed, it still remains unclear what kind of life she might be able to have, given the accusations she faced. Int’l NGOs in the United States, Italy, Canada and even UK have offered the teenager and her family a home outside Pakistan, a family representative said.

She spoke to CNN in September from an undisclosed location after she was released on bail and said; “I’m scared, I’m afraid of anyone who might kill us”. She denied that she defiled the Quran. She said she was happy to be with her family, but feared for her life.

National and international Christians welcome the court’s ruling made under considerable pressure and international scrutiny.

There have been about 1,400 blasphemy cases since the laws were first enacted in 1986, according to Human Rights Watch. There are more than 15 cases of people on death row for blasphemy in Pakistan, and 52 people have been killed while facing trial for the charge, according to the organization. What would be the future of those people?

Social and Political leadership in or out of Pakistan expresses its concern about the IHC decision in Rimsha case:

 

Wilson Chaudhary

Wilson Chaudhery Ilford: Chairman British Pakistani Christian Association, (BPCA) said that Pakistani Christians in UK welcome the Court verdict on Rimsha case.

It is rare days to read any good news coming out of Pakistan.

It is rarer still to read good news concerning matter of discriminatory laws against religious minorities. However, in November, Rimsha’s story end seems to show that Pakistan is for once bringing the force of law to bear on those who abuse religion to provoke violence against minorities.

This is the first time the table have turned on a Muslim accuser in this way, and has in the memorable word of Muhammad Adeel in New Pakistan, “exposed the blasphemy law for what it is-a colonial-era law used a weapon against personal or political enemies.”

Wilson Chaudhery urged Pakistani government to take care of the other people who are facing the same discriminatory cases.



Albert David

Albert David, Chairman Pakistan United Christian Movement (PUCM) said “it is clearly seen here that law enforcement and justice official in Pakistan are capable of dealing with high profile and dangerous cases when they show the will to do so.”

Islamabad High Court (IHC) decision about Rimsha case is very transparent and seen that the law is misused in the country.

Pakistan’s blasphemy laws don’t protect religious harmony, he added.

PUCM welcome the court decision and believe that misuse of the blasphemy law will stop now, and we recommend our government to revisit the blasphemy laws for equality, unity, national harmony and peace in the country, he claimed.



Naila J Dayal

Naila Joseph Dayal, Chairperson, Christian Progressive Movement (CPM) said that the court decision in Rimsha case has clearly shown that there is misuse of the blasphemy law in Pakistan.

This is certainly good news for the Pakistani Christians, but it is only a beginning. Rimsha remains in custody and Malik Hammad yet to be convicted, she said. She urged that all blasphemy cases need to re-open because this case has given a clear picture of its misuse.

I am not optimistic that the laws will be repealed; even you can’t discuss it, said Ms. Naila.

Nobody has even spoken about the fate of Salman Taseer, are they likely to any time soon. And as long as the laws remain on the statute books, cases like these will continue to occur, and major injustices will continue to be perpetrated on all of Pakistan’s religious minorities.

Numerous cases from the files reveal personal motives behind formal complaints of Blasphemy.



Nawaz Salamat

Nawaz Salamat, co-chairman All Pakistan Christian League said on the surface such incidents appear to be motivated by acts of desecration: devout believers moved to violence by the willful trampling of their sacred beliefs.

The real motivation is political-commonly a toxic brew of the politics, in which religious extremists seeks to stir up religious passion for their own ends.

The personal desire to settle scores is easily exploited by ambitious clerics like Muhammad Khalid Chishti, looking to make their name as defenders of the faith. The Rimsha accusations seem part of a strategy to chase Christians from the area. But we appreciate that high officials in Pakistan handled it bigheartedly. We salute the chief justice Islamabad High court.

About Shamim Masih

"I am Christian rights activist and freelancer Pakistani journalist specializing in writing about Christians rights for the different papers in the world. My aim is to create a peaceful environment in the society and to help eliminate Christian persecution through my writing as I bring the plight of these brave people under the spotlight of the whole world."

Shamim Masih was born in Sheikhopura's village and raised in Gujranwala, a city in Pakistan's Punjab province. He earned his Bachelors Degree from the University of the Punjab, Lahore majoring in English, Economics and Statistics; he also received a Masters Degree in Business Administration.

As a freelance writer and author, Shamim has written for different papers in the world; his expertise is in writing articles highlighting different social issues. He has served as freelance chief reporter and column writer in “Minority Times” in Islamabad, and a number of Shamim's articles have been published in local papers as well.

You can write to Shamim at this address: shamimpakistan@gmail.com

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bizworldusa December 3, 2012 4:03 am (Pacific time)

Islamabad High Court dismissed blasphemy charges against Rimsha. She is now a free girl. Thank you Bizworldusa

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