Pakistan (MNN) ― Pakistani police asked for a time extension twice, but they still couldn't find anything to condemn 14-year-old Rimsha Masih. A judge sent her case to a juvenile court after police failed to prove the girl desecrated the Quran, as a neighbor alleged last month.
Police arrested the Pakistani teenager on August 16 on blasphemy charges, punishable by a lifetime in prison. The young girl was accused of burning a booklet used to learn the basics of the Quran. After an initial court appearance, she was imprisoned and later taken to a secure location for her safety.
What will Rimsha face next? Lindsey Vessey, Open Doors USA Advocacy Director, said it's anyone's guess.
"What's going to happen in this juvenile court is a little up in the air right now," Vessey said. "If the police are saying that they don't have any evidence against her, it's hard to imagine that they can continue pressing her with these charges."
Following Rimsha's initial arrest, angry mobs threatened to burn Christian homes in her neighborhood. Over 600 believers were forced to flee, and Vessey said most are afraid to return. A Pakistani newspaper said an estimated 51 people accused of blasphemy were killed before their respective trials ended. In July, a mentally unstable man was burned alive for allegedly destroying pages of the Quran.
"[Rimsha's] life is very much in danger," stated Vessey, "as well as the Christians who returned to this community."
A Muslim cleric, Imam Khalid Jadoon, was arrested earlier this month for framing Rimsha. In their investigation, police found a lot of evidence against the imam.
"Reportedly, his whole intent was to drive Christians out of her neighborhood," explained Vessey. "Some of them have returned, but most of them are too scared to [come back]."
Vessey isn't sure if Rimsha's acquittal will hold any benefit for Pakistani believers. But it could boost their moral.
"To have a positive outcome: maybe at minimal it would be an encouragement to them. So that's something we could definitely pray for."
Pray for the protection of believers in Pakistan, and pray that Rimsha is acquitted.
You can help by contacting Pakistan's Ambassador to the U.S., Sherry Rehman. Ask for protection and justice for Rimsha and her family. Visit the Open Doors Advocacy site to take action.
Source: Mission Network News, Open Doors