Rimsha Masih’s case extended

By October 22, 2012

Pakistan (MNN) — 14-year-old Rimsha Masih was arrested two months ago, accused of committing blasphemy. Her court case has been extended to November 14, 2012, a month away.

According to an Assist News correspondent in Pakistan, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) has extended her stay during the hearing of the petition. "The court extended the stay in order to first decide on the petition for quashing the First Informational Report (FIR). During Wednesday's hearing of Rimsha's petition, Chaudhry Abdul Aziz, Advocate, submitted his power of attorney on behalf of Malik Ummad, the accuser."

In the petition filed, Rimsha's lawyer had said that it was the Imam, Khalid Jadoon Chishti, who fabricated the charge of blasphemy. His reason, according to the lawyer, was that he wanted the Christian community to vacate the area. That is exactly what happened, too.

Living in a country where 97% of the population is Muslim, allegations of blasphemy can create public fury. Pakistan is #10 on the Open Doors World Watch List for persecution of Christians. Rimsha's arrest made hundreds of Christians in her neighborhood flee in fear for their lives.

Hafiz Zubair, prosecution witness, recorded on August 31 that the Imam put pages of the Holy Quran in the shopping bag. In doing so, it made a case against the Christians.

To make the case even stranger, three witnesses testified against Imam. According to DawnNews, soon after, they withdrew their testimonies. The witnesses stated that they had been forced into recording statements by the police.

Two witnesses recorded separate statements saying they saw Jadoon putting some pages of the Holy Quran in a plastic bag, tearing them.

The court delayed the hearing in Jadoon's bail plea until October 3. On the 11th of October, he was granted bail, six weeks after his arrest. His bail was set at 200,000 rupees ($2,065 US) after witnesses again retracted their statements early in October.

In the beginning of September, Rimsha was granted bail. Under protective custody, she was airlifted to an unspecified location. She now has to wait until November 14 for her next court date.

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