Loading
Girl with Down syndrome granted bail in blasphemy case

.- A judge granted bail on Friday, Sept. 7 to a 14-year-old Christian girl with Down syndrome who has been held on suspicion of burning pages of the Quran.

“Although this is a small step towards justice, she will still have to undergo a full trial unless granted asylum in a Western nation,” Wilson Chowdhry of the British Pakistani Christian Association said in a Sept. 7 e-mail.

Masih, who has Down syndrome, was arrested Aug. 16 and has been held at a high-security prison in Rawalpindi.

Her bail has been set at 1,000,000 rupees, or about $10,500. Bail is not normally available to those held under the blasphemy laws, but the evidence against her was deemed inadequate to continue to hold a minor with Down syndrome.

If her bail is met, she may be united with her family, which has been taken into protective custody. Many Christians have fled the poor neighborhood where the Masih family lived, fearing mob violence.

Even if those accused under the country’s harsh blasphemy laws are acquitted in court, it can be difficult for authorities to prevent the killing of those who are accused. In 2011, two Pakistani politicians -- Salmaan Taseer, a Muslim, and Shahbaz Bhatti, a Catholic -- were assassinated for opposing the blasphemy laws under which Masih is being held.

“Here safety is paramount and security at today's court hearing was significant, however the killing of Governor Taseer illustrates that extra-judicial killings are hard to prevent,” Chowdhry stated.

Masih's case has garnered attention from Western governments and human rights organizations such as Amnesty International. It has also sparked discussion of the blasphemy laws and human rights within Pakistan itself.

Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are often used to settle scores or to persecute minorities. Christians make up a mere two to four percent of the country’s population.

On Sept. 2 an imam from Masih's neighborhood, Khalid Chishti, was arrested on suspicion of having planted pages of the Quran among burnt pages in a bag she was carrying. Chishti will also face charges under the blasphemy laws.

Chisti allegedly said to his companions, “You know this is the only way to expel the Christians from this area.” Several persons, including his own deputy, have testified to his action of planting the Quran pages in Masih's bag.

“It’s a welcome decision, they were expecting this and they were praying for this, but it comes not as a favorable gesture on the part of the court, it doesn’t involve that sympathy that common people share; a child being accused and then being abused and kept in jail,” said Peter Jacob, of the National Commission for Justice and Peace, an advocacy organization established by the Pakistani bishops' conference.

Tags: Persecuted Christians, Blasphemy Laws


Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages

RESOURCES »

Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

New book 'The Vatican unknown'
New book 'The Vatican unknown'
A Look at India from Rome
3D Church mapping
#PAUSEforPeace Initiative
Dedicating art to San Juan de la Cruz
A state without territory elects new government
The renewal of the Legionaries of Christ
Presentation of the book "The Pastor"
Synod on the Family October 2014
Preferential option for the poor
God is alive, even in sport
'A forbidden God' named Best Film at the International Catholic Film Festival
Vatican backs a 'Pause for Peace' during World Cup final
The effects of religious violence in Sarajevo 
The origin of Corpus Christi 
Corpus Christi at the Vatican 
Homage to an Indian Cardinal
Train of the Child's Light
New book explaining gestures of the Mass
Encounter between Pope Francis and the Charismatic Renewal in the Spirit Movement.
Aug
2

Liturgical Calendar

August 2, 2014

Saturday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mt 14:1-12

Gospel
Date
08/02/14
08/01/14
07/31/14

Daily Readings


First Reading:: Jer 26: 11-16, 24
Gospel:: Mt 14: 1-12

Homily of the Day

Mt 14:1-12

Homily
Date
08/02/14
07/31/14
07/30/14

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
     HTML
Text only
Headlines
  

Follow us: