ASIA/PAKISTAN-"Forgiveness" is the last word in the case of the Pakistani Maria Goretti

Faisalabad (Agenzia Fides) - The story of Amariah Masih, a Catholic 18-year-old raped and killed on November 27, 2011 by the Muslim Arif Gujjar, who wanted to marry and convert her, comes to an end with forgiveness. Mansha Masih, the girl’s father, called the " Pakistani Maria Goretti " (see Fides 2/12/2011) has forgiven the killer during an official meeting held in recent days in his village, near Samundari, in the province of Punjab. As reported to Fides by the Commission "Justice and Peace" of the diocese of Faisalabad, where Samundari is located, the issue was resolved peacefully when about 75 Muslims and 35 Christians came together: the Muslim community offered a formal apology to Mansha Masih, expressing regret for the incident. Amariah’s Catholic family responded with one word: "forgiveness".
According to the complaint lodged to the police, Arif Gujjar was pending on the charge of murder. The local police arrested him and held him in custody for 45 days. During the investigation, the police said that between Arif Gujjar and Amariah Mansha there was a love affair, and therefore Gujjar was acquitted and released, without being taken to court (Fides 12/03/2012). The family had challenged the decision and on March 21 filed a request asking that the case to be transferred to the jurisdiction of the Police Office in Faisalabad.
At this stage there was the search for a compromise between the parties, which reached a successful conclusion, thanks to the mediation of some lawyers and moderate Muslims. The case ended with forgiveness and a signed reconciliation, in which the victim’s family waived any legal claims. A priest, contacted by Fides in Faisalabad, commented: "Mansa Masih’s Christian family had no other choice, being one of the few Christian families in a Muslim village. Forgiveness is desirable, it comes from God and is always a witness of love to the enemy. But too often, Christians in Pakistan are denied justice and crimes against Christians remain unpunished." (PA) (Agenzia Fides 16/4/2012)

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