Canada Provides Refuge for Pakistani Christian Girl Accused of Blasphemy
Religion TodayReligious persecution, missions, Christianity around the world
- 2013 Jul 02
A teenage Christian girl fled Pakistan with her family after a Muslim cleric falsely accused her of burning pages from the Quran. After spending months in hiding, Rimsha Masih and her family are now in Canada, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said over the weekend, WORLD reports. Rimsha was arrested in August in Islamabad after the cleric made the accusation. He was later accused of fabricating the evidence and she was acquitted, but those accused of blasphemy in Pakistan are often subject to vigilante justice. Mobs have been known to attack and kill people accused of blasphemy, and two prominent politicians who have discussed changes to the blasphemy laws have been killed. Rimsha left Pakistan with her parents, three sisters, and a brother on March 14, attorney Tahir Naveed Chaudhry said. A Muslim cleric who lobbied for her release, Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi, said Rimsha had been facing threats and was moving constantly. "I am sad that this innocent girl had to leave Pakistan," he said. "She had been acquitted by the court, and despite that it was not possible for her to live freely." Kenney said he had been following the case when a Pakistani contact asked him in January whether the family could come to Canada. Privacy concerns prevented Canada's immigration service from saying whether she was in the country at first, but Rimsha's lawyer confirmed it on Saturday. Kenney said he has instructed immigration officials to process their applications for permanent residency under humanitarian and compassionate grounds.