By Jeremy Reynalds
Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service
ROME (ANS) -- A Christian teen gave a heartfelt plea. "I ask Catholics, the West, the international community to help all Christians in prison, victims of the blasphemy laws."
According to a story by Dario Salvi of AsiaNews, that was the appeal of Rimsha Masih, a Christian teen suffering from mental problems who was arrested last August for blasphemy, and then cleared.
For weeks, her story occupied Pakistani newspapers and world media, motivating worldwide appeals for action.
Asia News said as a result of the work of the Federal Minister Paul Bhatti, supported by the Muslim community and the government in Islamabad, the story - for the first time - has resulted in a positive outcome.
A few days before the holidays, Asia News reported, Rimsha and family wanted to send "greetings to Pope Benedict XVI and all Christians of the world."
In a plea addressed to all Christians, the West and the international community, Asia News reported Rimsha said, "I ask you to support and assist all Christians ... who are in prison because of the blasphemy laws" ... "be close to them."
Asia News said during the telephone interview, Rimsha was playing with her brothers. She laughed several times, confirming an atmosphere of relative calm.
Rimsha said that after a difficult period she is now happy. "This Christmas I thank God for saving me and Jesus Christ for helping me."
Asia News said her words showed the simplicity of a young girl whose life was turned upside down by a terrible accusation, and who asked only for things to return to normal.
"For Christmas," Rimsha told Asia News, "I would like to get nice clothes and a pair of sneakers."
She added that wish is to "be able to return to school."
Asia News said Misrek Masih, father of Rimsha, thanked "Jesus for saving us," and "the minister Paul Bhatti and his entire organization (the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance-APMA) for supporting us."
Asia News said Misrek also thanked the Pakistani government for protection. However, he added that the family still does not feel safe and would like to move to another country, "because here we still feel threatened. We cannot leave quietly. Our life is always in danger; extremist groups might strike. We strongly desire to start a new life elsewhere."
Despite the difficulties, dangers and threats, Asia News said, Rimsha and her family are looking forward to the holidays.
They said, "We want to wish Merry Christmas to the Pope and all the Christians of the world, and we thank you very much for the support we received."
Asia News said Rimsha and her family are currently under the protection of the Pakistani government and Catholic activists of the APMA, an association founded by Shahbaz Bhatti - former Minister for Minorities, who was assassinated by Islamic extremists. APMA is now led by his brother Paul.