Girl Jailed for Blasphemy only 14 Years Old

Thursday, August 30, 2012

By Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN (Worthy News)-- A Christian girl arrested in Islamabad for blasphemy has been determined to be a minor, according to a recent medical review.

On Aug. 16, Rimsha Masih was accused of blaspheming Islam by burning pages of the Qu'ran, but an official medical review determined that she is only 14 and will be tried in juvenile court, according to her lawyer, Tahir Chaudhary.

Currently being held in Rawalpindi prison and reportedly in a state of shock, Masih doesn't understand the charges against her as Muslims continue to call for her execution.

"She was weeping and crying and full of fear," Chaudhary told NPR. "My client is not guilty in this case because she can't judge right and wrong because she's a minor and also she's illiterate."

Following Masih's arrest, a Muslim mob demanded that she be burned to death as a blasphemer as they set fire to Christian homes.

Masih's case has brought international attention to Pakistan’s oppressive blasphemy laws, which are often used to settle personal scores between Muslims and non-Muslims; as a result, many religious minorities in Pakistan live in constant fear of being accused of blasphemy.

"Now that Rimsha has been labeled a blasphemer, she will never be able to return home," said Aidan Clay, International Christian Concern's Regional Manager for the Middle East. "In the past 25 years, more than 46 people accused of blasphemy have been murdered on the streets, in court rooms, or in prison cells. It is likely that Rimsha will also face vigilante justice by outraged Pakistani Muslims, even if she is never convicted ...

"Pakistani officials must take action immediately to ensure that Rimsha does not become a victim of mob violence, or another casualty of abused blasphemy legislation. No one, adult or child, should fear being executed by their government, or burned by a mob simply because they are a member of a minority religious community."