MPAC Concerned Over Young Girl's Arrest & Abuse of Pakistani Blasphemy Laws

August 23, 2012

Last week, Pakistani authorities arrested a young Christian girl, Rimsha Masih, and her mother based on accusations that the young girl burned pages of the Quran. And this week, humanity mourns the death of mercy, common sense and understanding.

The Muslim Public Affairs Council urges all people of conscience to call the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and voice their outrage and concern for Rimsha's imprisonment and the misuse of a law that only serves to set back the country, its people and Islam.

Under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, anyone found guilty of defaming Islam, the Quran or Prophet Muhammad is subject to punishment by death. For a little girl to be taken away from her family, home and community based on allegations of burning pages from the Quran is merciless and antithetical to all Islamic principles. This is not only an ugly and outrageous incident; it is an affront to justice. No child should be imprisoned and separated from their family for an accusation that has yet to be proven.

To date, there has been no confirmation of the girl's age (reports put her between 11 and 16), mental capacity (some reports claim she is illiterate while others say she has Down syndrome) or if any evidence shows her involvement in burning pages of the Quran.

Regardless of these unknowns, what is known is that as many as 600 Christian Pakistanis have fled their villages bordering Islamabad because of fear of backlash against their community. There is no justification for violence against any person or community because of differing beliefs. In our own backyard, we witnessed a horrific act of violence against the Sikh American community because they were deemed to be different. Today, First Lady Michelle Obama is showing true leadership as she visits the families and victims of the Gurdwara shooting. Her visit is a positive example to all leaders worldwide that religious freedom and pluralism are rooted in mutual universal ideals and should be respected and honored in each country. Supporting one another regardless of differing beliefs can only create a stronger nation.

The Quran even tell us that there is “no compulsion in religion” [Quran 2:256].

Blasphemy laws prove that a certain level of intelligence is not always part of policy-making. This little girl's imprisonment is incomprehensible, as the “crime” of a child has resulted in her family's banishment and they can never safely return home.

Sadly, this is not an isolated incident. The reactions to Rimsha's alleged Quran burning has set off people who have forgotten that the real crime is forgetting the message of the Quran, one of peace and understanding. Have people also forgotten that the only proper way to dispose of a Quran is by burning it? Whether or not Rimsha consciously and maliciously burned the Quran is not the issue — the reaction of the state police and Pakistanis against her and her family is the huge cause for concern.

Pakistan's blasphemy laws only serve as an instituted mechanism of governmental bullying against defenseless citizens and religious minorities. To date they have caused the death of hundreds of innocent civilians, and people have taken this law into their own hand as vigilantes persecuting others through bombings, shootings and assassinations. The laws are a setback to Islamic thought and religious freedom. The laws are a setback to the people of Pakistan, who 65 years ago became their own country under the guise of giving law and honor to Muslims to no longer be the minority and practice their faith freely.

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