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Rimsha Masih

October 2012

Rimsha Masih

Relief agencies and lobby groups in Pakistan and Britain are still helping hundreds of destitute families who fled Pakistan as a result of the wrongful imprisonment of Rimsha Masih.
    The young teenager, who has Down’s syndrome, had been detained by police, accused by a local imam of blasphemy and burning Muslim scriptures, and put on death row.
     The girl had to undergo a medical examination before Pakistan’s authorities would accept she had Down’s syndrome and was a minor. Her parents claim she is only 11, but the police, other authorities and imam who laid the original charge against her alleged she was 16.
    Medical analysis placed her at 13 years, which has resulted in her relocation today into a juvenile detention centre.
    During her beating and subsequent imprisonment, she faced death threats and her family was forced to flee. More than 300 local Christian families fled their homes in her town of Mehrabad, amid a violent backlash, as Muslims called for her and her family to be burned alive, according to Barnabas Fund.
    The lawyer acting for the imam in pressing charges against Rimsha accused her and the State of being complicit in creating an illegal medical report, and called for her to be killed extra-judicially if the courts acquitted her.
    However, in a startling twist, reports came that the imam’s own deputy at the mosque blew the whistle on his leader, claiming that the imam himself had burned the pages of the Koran and planted them on the girl.
    The case has attracted widespread attention globally. According to the British Christian Pakistani Association (BCPA), Scottish Christians gathered outside the Pakistani consulate in Glasgow on 31 August to call for her acquittal.
    Bail was granted on 7 September, when she was finally released, but she and her family are still under threats. Despite the evidence of the deputy, she is still to be tried under the Juvenile Justice System Ordinances.

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