Christian Families Displaced in Pakistan

Rimsha Masih, a Pakistani Christian girl, was arrested on Aug. 17 for allegedly burning pages from the Koran. She has since been released. A Muslim cleric was arrested for fabricating evidence against her, and Pakistan’s noxious blasphemy laws were once again discredited. But Rimsha was not the only victim in the case. Hundreds of her Christian neighbors from Umara Jaffar, a slum near Islamabad, were forced to flee their homes after her arrest when they were threatened by angry mobs. These Christian families remain homeless and afraid to return. On Sept. 18 they held a rally in Islamabad calling for the resignation of Paul Bhatti, Pakistan’s federal minister for interfaith harmony. Demonstrators claim Bhatti raised funds for the displaced families and offered to help resettle them but has not lived up to his commitments. The families are sleeping out in the open and surviving on one meal a day. Minister Bhatti denied the allegations.

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