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    » 07/20/2010, 00.00

    INDIA – PAKISTAN

    Indian Muslim condemns the murder of Christian brothers accused of blasphemy

    Nirmala Carvalho

    Asghar Ali Engineer, head of Mumbai’s Centre for Study of Society and Secularism, calls the murder a horrible crime that is also against Islam. He blames Muslim clerics for using the blasphemy laws to promote their own interests. “I am completely against the blasphemy laws; there is nothing in Qur‘an about it,” he said.
    Mumbai (AsiaNews) – “The murder of the two Christian brothers is a horrible crime and such criminal acts are repeatedly taking place in Pakistan. I received the news with deep sorrow and regret,” said Asghar Ali Engineer, an Indian Muslim who heads the Centre for Study of Society and Secularism in Mumbai. “I am completely against the blasphemy laws; there is nothing in Qur‘an about it,” he added.

    Two Christian brothers, Rashid Emmanuel e Sajid Masih Emmanuel, were gunned down yesterday as they left a courthouse in Faisalabad (Pakistan). Police had arrested them on blasphemy charges, but they were acquitted by the court.

    The double murder has stirred violent tensions between Christians and Muslims. Police has placed the city under a state of emergency.

    “I received the news with deep sorrow and regret. The notorious blasphemy laws are being used and misused repeatedly against the minority Christian community in Pakistan,” Engineer said.

    In his view, the Muslim clerics who incited believers to kill the two Christians are against Islam. “They are fanatical elements with vested political interests and unfortunately the police force is also politicised and communalised.”

    It is hard to change these fanatics, according to Engineer. “Clerics like these are not going to change; you cannot reform them as they have vested interests and seek only to further their own gains. There are so many right-thinking Muslims theologians; unfortunately, they are all marginalised.”

    In the case of Pakistan, the scholar blames the authorities for doing nothing to stop the rise of fanaticism. “I fault the government of Pakistan. What is the government doing to protect the vulnerable Christian community? The security of citizens is the responsibility of the government. What steps is the government taking to rein in the mafia, criminals, clerics and the other anti social elements?”

    “This small number of fanatical clerics is taking their followers back to the times of barbarianism. Taking a life has absolutely no justification,” he added.

    People who are victimised by extremists should turn against them and condemn such acts that go against humanity.

    One example is the case of TJ Joseph, a Christian professor in Kerala (India) who was mutilated by local Muslims for offending Muhammad.

    “The chopping of the hand of the Christian Professor in Kerala was barbaric and irreligious,” Engineer said. “I condemned it in the strongest possible terms.”

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    See also

    10/08/2009 INDIA – PAKISTAN
    Scrap blasphemy laws which bring shame on Islam and Pakistan, Muslim scholar says
    Prof Asghar Ali Engineer expresses all his heartfelt sorrow for the violence Christians have endured in Pakistan. He promises to do battle to defend them, starting with the repeal of the blasphemy laws, which have been used for a variety of reasons to perpetrate “juridical murders”.

    05/04/2007 PAKISTAN
    Life of 11-year-old Christian in danger even though he is not charged with anything
    Blasphemy accusations have been made against five Christians, the youngest a 16-year-old, after a quarrel between boys that was blamed on the 11-year-old. Local Christians are afraid that he might become the target of violence.

    15/03/2010 ISLAM - EGYPT
    Muslim leader condemns violence against Christians in Egypt
    Asghar Ali Engineer points the finger at "some imams" who foment hatred and sectarian divisions. Analyzing the Koran and the life of Muhammad, he emphasizes the defence of human life and respect for minorities. He adds: Muslims must reflect "on their failures," and return to "values enshrined in the Koran."

    04/03/2010 INDIA
    Muslim women can move forwards wearing the veil
    A few days ago, Muslims in Karnataka took to the streets to protest the publication of an article against the Islamic veil by the ‘Kannada Prabha’ newspaper, ostensibly by well know writer Taslima Nasreen. Because of her liberal views on Islam, she has been living in exile for the past 16 years. The unrest left two people dead, and 50 injured; it also caused anger and fear among the State’s Hindu population. Asghar Ali Engineer, a Muslim and head of the Centre for Study of Society and Secularism, tells Indians about the struggle Muslim women are engaged in for their rights. He accuses Indian newspapers of distorting reality, something that is preventing a real reform of Islam.

    21/06/2006 PAKISTAN
    Government silent as blasphemy law continues to kill, say Pakistani bishops
    In a statement released by the Justice and Peace Commission of the Bishops' Conference of Pakistan the government's negligence vis-à-vis crimes committed in the name of religion and on the basis of blasphemy laws is described as a "real sin".



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