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By Ryan Morgan
Washington, D.C. (September 6, 2012) – A petition posted on the website of International Christian Concern (ICC) calling for the release of 14-year-old Rimsha Masih from a Pakistani prison quickly garnered over 2,000 signatures. The signatures came within a week of the petition being posted online as Rimsha’s case continued to make headlines around the globe.
The petition, directed to Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, calls for the “immediate release” of Rimsha, a Christian who doctors say is mentally disabled and is currently imprisoned in Islamabad. Rimsha was arrested in mid-August on charges of blasphemy after being accused of intentionally burning pages with lines of the Quran printed on them.
The petition also calls for Pakistani authorities to ensure the “subsequent safekeeping” of Rimsha after she is released. The petition points out that the day after Rimsha’s arrest, a mob of between 600 and 1,000 Muslims began setting Christian homes on fire in her neighborhood, and called for Rimsha to be burned alive. Rimsha’s immediate family has already been moved into protective custody; some groups have questioned whether it will be safe for her to remain in Pakistan.
Although the recent arrest of the imam who accused Rimsha of blasphemy has led to hopes she will be released as early as Friday, ICC is still encouraging followers and interested individuals to sign the petition calling for her release and safekeeping.
ICC’s Advocacy Officer, one of the drafters of the petition, said “As much as we are all hoping and praying for Rimsha’s release tomorrow from prison, it is still critical that we send a strong message to the Pakistani government that this sort of thing cannot be tolerated. Her bail hearings have already been postponed twice and even if she is released, keeping Rimsha safe is of the utmost importance.”
International Christian Concern regularly conducts petitions on behalf of persecuted and imprisoned Christians around the world. The petitions are typically sent to high level government officials from the country where the persecution is taking place. The petitions are also sent to U.S. officials at the State Department and several members of Congress. Past ICC petitions have collected signatures from as many as 67 different countries, demonstrating a widespread interest in stopping Christian persecution.
For more information on ICC’s petitions, and to sign the petition on behalf of Rimsha, click here.