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U.S. senators ask Zardari for immediate release of Christian girl, protection of Hindus

Washington, Sun, 02 Sep 2012 ANI
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Washington, Sept. 2 (ANI): A bipartisan group of six U.S. senators have asked Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari to take immediate action for the release of the minor Christian girl who was arrested on charges of blasphemy, and also address the problem of religious intolerance against Hindus in the country.

In a letter to Zardari, the senators said the recent cases of discrimination, including that of Rimsha Masih - who has been charged with blasphemy, have underscored the worsening situation for religious minorities in the country, reports The Nation.

"Other religious freedom abuses raise further concerns about the protection of religious minorities. Hundreds of Hindus are fleeing Pakistan due to growing religious intolerance in the country," the senators said.

"Among the acts alleged by Hindus leaving the country are harassment, theft, rape, kidnapping and forced conversion. Members of the Ahmadi community also continue to experience acts of murder, violence and discrimination, as do Shia Muslims," they added.

The senators called for safety and equitable treatment to all Pakistanis, regardless of their religion. With Rimsha yet to get bail in the blasphemy case, the senators urged Zardari to undertake a serious effort and work with the global community to address the problem and end the imprisonment of Rimsha.

Rimsha, 14, was accused of committing blasphemy after a neighbour saw her allegedly burning pages inscribed with verses from the Holy Quran. The news of desecrating the Quran spread like wild fire, following which furious locals bashed up Rimsha and her mother. She was later arrested by the police on the demand of the locals.

Rimsha, who reportedly suffers from Down Syndrome has been held since August 16 under the strict blasphemy laws, prompting concern from Western governments, the Vatican and rights groups. (ANI)

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