Pakistani Teenager Falsely Accused of Blasphemy is Safe, but Two Others Are Killed for Dancing in the Rain

Last summer, Rimsha Masih, a young teenager who is the daughter of a Pakistani Christian couple, was arrested and jailed on charges of blasphemy. Her accuser was a mullah, Hafiz Mohammed Khalid Chishti (a.k.a. Khalid Jadoon) who said he’d caught the girl with charred pages from the Koran.

Something was fishy about the case from the get-go. For one thing, Rimsha (pictured below, left) was widely reported to be of limited mental capacity (some sources say she has Down Syndrome); even if she had really done what Chishti (right) accused her of, her culpability was in question. Also, Chishti is a known agitator against Christians,

… even appearing on a popular national television show to complain that the noise made by Christian worshippers had disturbed Muslim residents.

Which is an observation lacking in the self-awareness department if you’ve ever heard the racket a muezzin blares from atop his minaret five times a day.

Anyway: Chishti, despite eventually being arrested himself for making false statements to the police, had reason to boast of his success:

He… welcomed the departure of most of the Christians from the area following the furore surrounding the arrest of Rimsha. With passions running high in the community — hundreds of people demonstrated outside her house, reportedly demanding the right to burn the young girl to death — most Christians fled the area.

Even after a court cleared Rimsha of the potentially fatal charges — blasphemy can carry the death penalty in Pakistan — she and her family still weren’t allowed to live in peace. Chishti’s lawyer declared that as far as he was concerned, Muslims should “take the law into their own hands.” Rimsha and her relatives endured everything from dirty looks and hateful comments to outright death threats.

Now, it turns out, she and her family are finally safe; Canada quietly provided them with visas and a chance at a better life. Canada’s immigration minister Jason Kenney and everyone else who made it happen deserve our collective thanks.

Kenney said he had been following the case and was prompted to act when a Pakistani contact asked him in January whether the family could come to Canada. “I said absolutely, if they could get her out,” Kenney told the Canadian Press on Sunday. “So a number of people did some very dangerous, delicate work to extricate her and her family from Pakistan, and we provided the necessary visas”… Kenney said he had instructed immigration officials to process the family’s applications for permanent residency on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

That not all Muslim girls manage to escape oppression is sadly evident from another bit of news from Pakistan:

Two teenage sisters have been shot dead in Pakistan for allegedly dancing in the rain. Sisters Noor Basra, 15, Noor Sheza, 16, and their mother, Noshehra, were shot dead by five gunmen after a video of the two girls enjoying the rain shower in traditional dress spread throughout their conservative northern town.

The sisters’ stepbrother is now being blamed for ordering their deaths on June 23 in an effort to restore the family’s “honor” six months after the video surfaced.

Some reports cast doubt on the motive:

[Police] say they are also examining whether a property dispute or an audio clip — in which the girls are apparently heard talking to an unknown man — might be responsible.

No matter how you slice it, the girls are still victims of Islam’s appalling patriarchy.

The New York Daily News notes that

This latest tragedy comes one year after four women were executed for singing and dancing with men at a wedding in a remote village of Kohistan in northwest Pakistan. Tribal elders ordered the women to be shot dead for allegedly tarnishing their families’ names by their acts of “fornication.”


About Terry Firma

Terry Firma, though born and Journalism-school-educated in Europe, has lived in the U.S. for the past 20-odd years. Stateside, his feature articles have been published in the New York Times, Reason, Rolling Stone, Playboy, and Wired. Terry is the founder and Main Mischief Maker of Moral Compass, a site that pokes fun at the delusional claim by people of faith that a belief in God equips them with superior moral standards.

  • Stev84

    And there I thought “fornication” required actual sex.

    • Tainda

      Yeah, I’m a much bigger slut than I thought lol

      • M. Elaine

        Me too. I met my husband at a dance class. I rotated into him during class, we said hello, then fornicated on the spot.

        Also, don’t forget – every time you dance with someone, you’ve fornicated with all the other people they’ve danced with.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

          You’re one kinky bitch :)

        • Hat Stealer

          You’ll want to get checked- you probably have a STD (Shitty Transmited Dancing.)

        • Tainda

          You fornicated before marriage? You should be stoned! Wait, WERE you stoned at the time? lol

          I wonder what my gyno would say if I asked him to check me for what Hat Stealer said “Shitty Transmitted Dancing”

  • Art_Vandelay

    This is why as atheists I think that you have a moral responsibility to blaspheme. Society just never progresses in places where it’s punishable. To have that right and eschew it breeds an environment where the people who use fear to control the masses are going to flourish. In places where faith doesn’t warrant mandatory respect, girls don’t get shot in the head for dancing in the rain.

    • indorri

      I don’t see how such an environment automatically breeds. What is more important is to agitate to have and keep such a right, even if you don’t engage it yourself. To ensure that we have good, secular governance and violent reactionaries to religious disrespect are stopped.

      • Art_Vandelay

        I’m working off of the premise that the more that we exercise a right, the more likely others are to engage in it. Religious fundamentalism flourishes off of the idea that it’s taboo to criticize their dangerous ideas. Even here in the US, where it’s perfectly legal, it’s quite a prominent. Criticism and ridicule are the best weapons we have against religious oppression and corruption.

        • Artor

          Criticism, ridicule and the comfy chair are our best weapons.

          • WallofSleep

            …. and satire. Damn it. I’ll come in again.

            • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

              … and logic. Oh hell. Let me try that again.

    • WallofSleep

      “In places where faith doesn’t warrant mandatory respect, girls don’t get shot in the head for dancing in the rain.”

      …or for getting raped, or for going to school, or for singing, or for playing musical instruments…

  • Gus Snarp

    This is what happens when blasphemy laws and other incursions of religion into government are allowed. There is no freedom without freedom from religion. There is no true democracy that is not a secular democracy.

  • indorri

    I wish that it would be possible to grant asylum to all of those who live in places with blasphemy laws, or any other oppressive laws. I don’t see how else to solve this without resorting to absurd violence that would destroy stability in those areas.

    • Geoff Boulton

      Nice idea in principle. Unfortunately, in practice, it leaves the gates open for people like Abu Qatada, widely believed to be a key player in Al Qaeda, who requested, and was granted, asylum in the UK on the grounds of religious persecution. The UK’s been trying to get rid of him ever since.

      • Gus Snarp

        I don’t think it “leaves the gates open” for anyone. Unless any immigration at all “leaves the gates open” and if it does, then that’s a chance we have to take. We should not just slam the doors shut to all immigrants or set a religious test for immigration because sometimes bad people get through. We have checks and systems intended to keep criminals out, and sometimes someone slips through. I don’t think there’s any evidence that we get significantly more violent criminals because we have immigration and we certainly get plenty of the home grown kind. What we should do is our best to evaluate candidates for immigration, whether for reasons of persecution or not, to determine whether they have criminal backgrounds or other legitimate reasons for not being allowed entry.

        I do wish Ken Ham and Ray Comfort had not immigrated to the United States, but I still think a religious test for immigrants would be a greater wrong, and we’ve raised plenty of noxious creationists of our own.

        • Geoff Boulton

          You misunderstand. Personally, I would prefer to live in a world where borders were unnecessary and immigration was a non-word. Additionally, those countries which have had ‘open’ policies for immigration have, in general, benefited greatly from those policies. I also did not suggest slamming the door shut or call for religious tests, both of which I oppose.

          indorri made the case for allowing open immigration from countries where religious persecution, such as blasphemy laws, occurred. The point I made was that if this were the sole criteria then the system could easily be abused by somebody like Abu Qatada. He can claim he is suffering religious persecution on the basis of his being sought in connection with his fundamentalist Islamic beliefs and active support of Al Qaeda. Providing asylum for those who preach hatred against others is quite clearly not in the spirit of the law, even if it does unfortunately meet the letter of the law.

  • Tobias2772

    Someone explain to me again how islam is not a religion of violence and oppression.

    • Artor

      Yup. It’s right there alongside Xianity for hateful, weapons-grade ignorance.

      • http://absurdlypointless.blogspot.com/ Tanner B James

        Religion the world’s first WMD.

  • LesterBallard

    It’s good that I don’t have access to nuclear weapon control codes; in a fit of rage I’m afraid I’d launch. Murdered for dancing in the rain. We need to get out of that part of the world, but shit like this will become the norm.

    • Mario Strada

      I am not sure of the technical feasibility of such a thing, but a small dildo sized nuke would be a great deterrent if inserted in the right orifice of people like the intelligent looking dude in the top right picture above.
      The guidance system will need to be developed, but maybe if we can come up with a sensor for brain cell inactivity it may be able to home in nicely.

      Jokes aside, I am a global pacifist but I don’t adhere to non-violence in individual cases. People like that don’t really deserve to share my air molecules. How low can you get, taking advantage of a mentally impaired little girl and actually plant a burned Quran on her person for the purpose of burning her alive. My brain has a very hard time even trying to comprehend such evil.

      • Mario Strada

        And thank you to Canada for taking them on.

      • LesterBallard

        ” My brain has a very hard time even trying to comprehend such evil.” I think it helps to be religious and absolutely certain of your religious beliefs, with no doubt whatsoever.

      • LesterBallard

        I think in terms of curling irons with the clip broken off, inserted into various orifices, plugged in, and turned on. I know I’m not supposed to want to rape anyone, for anything, but there are times that I don’t care. I feel like playing by their rules.

    • Artor

      I’m a peaceful guy with a general distaste for guns, but reading the article put me in mind of spraying the mob in front of Rimsha’s house with an AK47. The “right” to burn a girl to death for something they already heard she didn’t actually do? WTF? Those aren’t people- they’re monsters!

  • WallofSleep

    Dear Bryan Fischer, et al,

    This is what real persecution looks like. Quit your goddamned whining.

    Sincerely,

    An actual member of the human race

    • Artor

      Also, this is what a society looks like when you let hateful, bigoted shitstains like Bryan Fischer run things. Put a beard and a turban on the man and he’d feel right at home in Pakistan.

      • smrnda

        Perhaps the hatred of fundamentalist Muslims you get from fundamentalist Christians is just envy. They’re jealous that the fundamentalist Muslims actually get to kill people for blasphemy and they’re restrained by things like the rule of law in a country with a secular government.

        • Artor

          Oh yes. Some of them have come right out and said so. Bradlee Dean says Muslims are more moral than Xians because they outright kill gays. You know exactly what he would do if he thought he could get away with it.

  • AxeGrrl

    While I despise our (Canada’s) current prime minister for what, imo, have been incredibly destructive policies/decisions, I will happily give kudos when they’ve been earned…….and Jason Kenney has earned them here.

    Bravo.


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