Girl accused of burning Qur'an flees Pakistan to live in Canada
Jonathan Zettel, CTVNews.ca
Published Saturday, June 29, 2013 5:54PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, June 29, 2013 11:13PM EDT
Immigration minister Jason Kenney tells CTV News he personally intervened to help a young Christian girl, Rimsha Masih, who has fled Pakistan with her parents and settled in Canada due to concerns for her safety.
Rimsha Masih and her family left Pakistan in March, after she had been locked up in maximum security prison for several weeks last August.
The girl, believed to be between the ages of 11 and 14, was accused of burning Islam’s holy book. Her case drew international attention to Pakistan’s severe blasphemy laws.
She was later acquitted, after a local Muslim cleric was thought to have framed her.
“This was an extraordinary example of brutal persecution,” Kenney told CTV News. “Rimsha was accused of blasphemy which was completely trumped up by people in her local village.”
Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi, a Muslim cleric who lobbied for Masih’s release from prison, said it was troubling she had to flee her homeland.
"I am sad that this innocent girl had to leave Pakistan. She had been acquitted by the court, and despite that it was not possible for her to live freely," he said.
The case has received international attention because of the girl’s young age, and there are questions surrounding her mental abilities.
Due to safety concerns, the Masih family’s exact whereabouts in Canada are being kept secret.
In recent months entire villages have been burned in a series of attacks on minority Christians.
With a report by Omar Sachedina, CTV News Ottawa Bureau