British MPs urged to intervene in Rimsha Masih case

Rimsha Masih has been in prison for nearly two weeks since she was accused of burning a Koran.

The girl's family say she is 11-years-old and has Down's syndrome, although the authorities contend after a medical examination that she is 14.

The imam accusing Rimsha of blasphemy has rejected the medical report confirming she is a minor.

She must remain in Adiala Prison while an investigation into the blasphemy accusation against her continues.

The next hearing on her case is scheduled to take place on Saturday.

Blasphemy is a serious offence in Pakistan, carrying the death sentence. Christian families in Rimsha's home town of Mehrabad have fled for fear of violent attacks by radicals.

British Pakistani Christians have challenged MPs in Britain to intervene on behalf of Rimsha.

Wilson Chowdhry, chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA), raised concerns about the case and Pakistan's notorious blasphemy law in a meeting with Andrew Stephenson MP.

He also expressed concern about the Christian families that have been forced to live in makeshift homes in a nearby forest without electricity and clean water.

According to Mr Chowdhry, local authorities told the Christians it was safe to return to their homes but threats are still being made against them by local Muslims. Some of the Christians have reportedly decided to stay in the forest, feeling it is safer than going back to the village.

British Pakistani Christian children also met Mr Stephenson and presented him with pictures and lessons calling for freedom for Rimsha.

One letter by Hannah Chowdhry read: "Rimsha Masih needs her mummy and Daddy, please bring them back together."

MP Andrew Stephenson has agreed to speak to the Foreign Secretary Alistair Burt to see how Britain can intervene. He expressed great sorrow and outrage at the manner in which Rimsha has been treated.

Mr Chowdhry said: "Britain and other Western nations need to engage in dialogue with Pakistan to ensure justice for this vulnerable young girl, whose mental illness means that she simply could not have meant any harm in her actions.

"This whole incident seem contrived and now innocent people are suffering. Young children have drawn pictures depicting Rimsha's maltreatment.

"One image of Rimsha crying in prison and an angel in heaven shedding tears for her, highlight her innocence and the injustice of her imprisonment.

"I hope that the image will induce pressure for her release."