Rimsha Masih, Pakistan Blasphemy Girl – Mainstream Media’s Finest Hour
Yesterday, a Pakistani court dismissed blasphemy charges against Rimsha Masih, a 14 year old Christian girl who was arrested after she was accused of burning the Quran (which in any normal society should frankly just carry a fine at the most, but in Pakistan and other Muslim countries, could earn one the death sentence). It transpired that the mentally challenged teen was framed by Khalid Chishti, a neighborhood imam.
In a country where “blasphemy” cases usually end tragically at the hands of vigilante mobs, and judges have been murdered for finding people innocent of such charges, the fact that Rimsha survived the three week ordeal to be vindicated, is in no small part thanks to the intensive international media scrutiny that the case attracted, and the widespread international outrage it provoked.
In an era where the very term “main stream media” is treated with cynicism, scorn, and outlandish claims of collusion with established political powers, a young Pakistani girl today owes her life to the fact that the international media took up her case and reported it around the world.
The USA, UK, France and Canada have all offered Rimsha and her family asylum. It would have been better had an Arab or Islamic country done so as well. All through history, religions have been exploited by power hungry demagogues looking to elevate their own personnel standing. Thankfully, we live in an age where any attempt to exploit religious and ethnic sensitivities runs a good chance of being exposed. Thankfully, we live in an age where any persecution of a vulnerable group, no matter how small the victims or remote the location, can be bought to the world’s attention and the perpetrators held to account. Thankfully, we live in an age where main stream media is very much a potent force.
It is highly unlikely whether Rimsha would have fared as well had her fate rested in the hands of run-of-the-mill “Screw Da Man! Occupy the universe!” tin foil hat blogs.