Last week an enraged crowd threatened to burn my daughter alive, and in 48 hours a judge will decide whether she goes free or stays in jail. Rimsha is a minor with mental disabilities and often isn't in control of her actions. Yet local police here in Pakistan have charged her with desecrating the Koran, and we are afraid for her life.
Right now she is being held in a maximum-security jail, and in hours, she will face the court under Pakistan's anti-blasphemy laws, which can carry the death sentence. We are a poor Christian family witnessing mob fury over my daughter's case, and many other families have faced similar intimidation forcing them to either flee or live in fear. But the international attention on Rimsha’s case has emboldened Pakistani Muslim leaders to speak out against this injustice and forced President Zardari's attention.
Please help me keep up the global outcry on my daughter's case. I urge you to sign my petition to President Zardari to save Rimsha and demand protection for us and other vulnerable minority families. Avaaz will share this campaign with local and international media, watched carefully by all the politicians here:
An angry mob demanded the arrest of my daughter after a local imam started inciting people against her, claiming she had desecrated the Koran. Some then threatened to kill her and burn down the houses of Christians in our community. I pray that at her hearing on Saturday, the case against her is dismissed and she can come back to live with us.
Our family is in grave danger, as even talking about the blasphemy laws in Pakistan can be deadly -- last year the Pakistani Minister for Minority Affairs was killed after asking for the removal of the death penalty for committing blasphemy. It's such a sensitive situation that many of our Christian neighbours from our Islamabad slum have had to flee their homes.
We respect the religious rights of others. We simply hope for the safety of our daughter and our community and wish this had never happened. We are happy that the Ulema Council, an umbrella group of Muslim clerics and scholars here in Pakistan, spoke out, saying: "We don't want to see injustice done with anyone. We will work to end this climate of fear." With your help, we can not only free Rimsha but make this incident the beginning of a greater understanding between communities in Pakistan. I ask you to sign this petition, and share it with your friends.
With hope and determination,
Misrek Masih with the Avaaz team
PS: This petition was started on Avaaz's new Community Petitions site, which lets anyone, anywhere, start a petition on issues that are important to them. To start your own, click here: http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/start_a_petition/?bv17436
Pakistan court postpones bail decision for girl accused of burning Quran (CNN)
Father of Pakistani Christian 'blasphemer' girl appeals to President (Telegraph)
Pakistan blasphemy case Christian girl 'is 14' (BBC)
Pakistani Muslim leaders support Christian girl accused of blasphemy (Guardian)
Pakistani Christians, fearing backlash, flee community after girl is accused of blasphemy (Washington Post)
Pakistani president wades into 'Down's Syndrome' blasphemy case (Christian Science Monitor)