Rimsha Masih could be a step closer to freedom with new evidence that attempted to frame her with blasphemy and send her to jail.
Pakistani police detain a Muslim cleric for allegedly planting evidence on the young girl, which various conflicting medical reports say she is either mentally impaired or has Down’s syndrome. None of the reports agreed as to how old Rimsha is chronologically, either, but state she is either uneducated or mentally around the age of four.
The case stirred up anger concerning Blasphemy Laws and people against such laws protested the young girl’s arrest.
Whatever the truth, experts said Ms. Masih’s plight highlighted a wider problem. “This case exemplifies the absurdity and tragedy of the blasphemy law, which is an instrument of abuse against the most vulnerable in society,” said Ali Dayan Hasan of Human Rights Watch.
Muslims are allegedly protesting Imam Khalid Chishti arrest, stating he is a victim and the courts should punish the young girl, threatening unrest if the Imam is charged.
"Pour petrol and burn these Christians," said Iqbal Bibi, 74, defending the imam on the steps of the mosque where he preaches in Masih's impoverished village of Mehr Jaffer.
"The cleric of the mosque has been oppressed. He is not at fault. He is innocent."
A judge brought the Imam into court in a blindfold and shackles concerning allegations of telling others that they intentionally tampered with the girl’s bag and the planted evidence on her in an effort to strengthen their accusations against her and as a way of “getting back at Christians”.
"The imam was arrested after his deputy Maulvi Zubair and two others told a magistrate he added pages from the Koran to the burnt pages brought to him by a witness," an investigator Munir Hussain Jaffri said.
He said Mr Zubair and some others had told the imam not to interfere, urging him to "give the evidence to the police as he got it".
According to Mr Jaffri, Imam Chishti had told them: "You know this is the only way to expel the Christians from this area."
The investigator said the cleric had been arrested at his home on Saturday underPakistan's blasphemy law.
"By putting these pages in the ashes he also committed desecration of the Holy Koran and he is being charged with blasphemy," he said.
The judge sentenced the Imam to a fourteen-day judicial reprimand in jail.
The Rimsha’s attorney stated that the court should acquit her of the charges and release her immediately, because it was "fully proven that it was a conspiracy".
However, if she returns to her village, she might be in danger from the Muslims in her community. Under Pakistani law, the charge of blasphemy is death, but if the courts do not carry out the sentence, despite finding the accused innocent, members in the public may still execute the person. Christians make up four percent of Pakistan’s population and fear for their lives, because the law gives them no protection and if the judge finds Rimsha innocent and releases her, she and her family probably will not return home due to lack of safety.
Convictions for blasphemy often hinge on witness testimony, but most testimonies are based on vendettas and abuse of blasphemy laws.
However, Rimsha is expected to released, but many Christians left the area already in a mass “exodus”.