By Saman Jafri
5, Sep 2012
The Rimsha Masih case has been in headlines since 2 weeks now and the frustration and helplessness that one feels over the whole issue is just indescribable. The feeling of despair is quite extreme. Rimsha Masih , a Christian girl , who’s age is said to be either 11 years or 14 is a resident of Meharaabd , a small village on the suburb of Pakistani capital is accused of blasphemy . It’s almost 2 weeks since she has been in the police custody and just has also been denied bail. Rimsha was arrested on August 16th when a neighbour accused her of committing blasphemy by burning some pages of the Islamic holy book, Quran, she is also said to be suffering from Downs syndrome.
The other day while going to work I ‘noticed’ a wall chalking which I am sure I must have seen before as well, as I use the same road for commuting to my work place, but the irony of the wall chalking in the present situation slapped me hard on the face, the writing on the wall read ‘Aafia is Pakistan’s pride.’
I repeatedly asked myself that If Aafia Siddiqui is Pakistan’s pride and daughter then why isn’t Rimsha Masih? Just because of the difference of the surname? Why don’t I see same zeal and enthusiasm in protest against Rimsha’s plight that we witnessed against Dr.Aafia’s arrest in form of processions and strikes on mostly every Friday, since her arrest?
I ask the same question from the people of the land of Pure, why can’t and don’t you own Rimsha as you own Dr.Aafia to be Pakistan’s pride and daughter? Why as a society we show such hatred and intolerance that we can’t even forgive a young girl for her faith!
The demand of fairness and impartiality in Rimsha‘s case by Allama Tahir Ashrafi is commendable but again my question is that when the US presented every kind of evidence against Dr.Aafia, the Pakistani nation or the larger part of it anyways was of the staunch opinion that Dr.Aafia is being framed and in reality she was innocent of all the charges being levied upon hers , so why are we not today so sure of Rimsha? The possibilities are high that the blasphemy law was used against her also the same way most of the times this controversial law is practiced. That is either for settling personal vendettas or fulfilling certain agendas. Again the unsure attitude towards Rimsha just because she has a different surname than Dr.Aafia?
We need to ask ourselves that would we condemn any young Muslim girl to the same fate as Rimsha’s if she burned or destroyed Quran by mistake. Or for that matter misspelled anything which has a religious connotation as the young Faryal Bhatti was expelled from school for misspelling Naat as Lanat in her Urdu exam? If we won’t then why are we so hell bent upon treating Rimsha such inhumanly? My question is not towards the government, as any faith I had in them as a citizen of Pakistan died the day they failed to protect the slain governor Punjab, Salman Taseer Shaheed, another victim of Zia’s blasphemy law. They won’t protect the citizens of this country when they were not able to protect their own governor! So yes my question is from the people of this country, the same who are chanting for change and betterment of Pakistan, why is that section of the society silent? Why such apathy when you want change in the country or the change that you seek is only going to be for the ‘Muslim’ population of Pakistan. I am afraid if this is the case then the Hindu migrating and Christians fleeing from Pakistan are doing a wise thing as I don’t see any hope for them and any end to their plight. Not to mention the scores of Shiite Muslims being killed on daily basis but this issue needs a separate write up so I won’t go into that debate and stick to my question towards my countrymen!
Why doesn’t the change chanting citizens come out and ask for at least a change in the law of blasphemy which has never served the purpose and on contrary always resulted in another black mark for Pakistan. The law should be changed so that no innocent person can be subjected to such inhumanity.
My question is at large to Pakistan, how long will we let such laws govern our country which make us prioritize on bases of religion and ethnicities, which dehumanize the citizen of this country on bases of their faith, make us suspicious of our own people just because of their beliefs and faith and let us act unjustly towards our own daughters by claiming one to be our pride and other subjected to brutality and inhumanity, all in the name of religion.