30 July 2016
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    » 07/19/2010, 00.00

    PAKISTAN

    On trial for blasphemy, two Christian brothers murdered in Faisalabad

    Fareed Khan

    Rashid Emmanuel and Sajid Masih Emmanuel were shot to death outside the courthouse right after a trial hearing. Both were handcuffed on their way back to prison. Police were going to clear them of the accusations. For days, Muslim religious leaders had incited Muslim faithful against the two, calling for their death.
    Faisalabad (AsiaNews) – Gunmen shot to death Rashid Emmanuel and Sajid Masih Emmanuel, two Christian brothers on trial for blasphemy, as they left court in Faisalabad city (Punjab). The men were handcuffed together when the attack took place; they were on their way back to prison after their court appearance.

    When they were arrested on 2 July, the Christian community sounded the alarm bell, fearing possible attacks. Immediately right after their arrest, Muslims organised a protest demonstration, calling for the two Christian brothers to be put to death.

    The brothers were killed by two gunmen outside the Faisalabad courthouse, where they had been taken for a hearing. They were an easy target for an execution-style assassination since they were shackled together. A police officer accompanying the two victims was also wounded. The killers escaped.

    For several days, Muslim religious leaders in Faisalabad had been fanning the flame of hatred against the two brothers, calling for their death. The two were arrested less than a month ago after leaflets allegedly bearing their names and featuring derogatory remarks against the Prophet Muhammad were found around town.

    Local sources said that police were going to clear them because an analysis of the hand-written leaflets  showed that the two brothers were not the authors.

    For Pakistani Minority Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, the accusations against the Christians were fabricated by people who had a grudge against them. One of the two brothers was a Protestant clergyman. Their families maintained their innocence all along.

    Peter Jacob, executive secretary of the National Commission for Justice and Peace of the Catholic Church of Pakistan, slammed the crime without mincing his words. He called the death of the two brothers, plain and simple murder, on allegations of blasphemy. He also renewed a call for the repeal of the law, stressing the “deep concern” of Pakistan’s Christian community. He also criticised the government for doing little to stop the abuses of the law.

    Last week, many Christian families fled Faisalabad’s Waris Pura neighbourhood, where the incident allegedly occurred, for fear of violence. On 15 July, Muslim protesters marched through the city calling for the death of the two brothers. The next day, at the end of Friday prayers, Muslim religious leaders egged on the Muslim faithful to demonstrate against the Christians. During the demonstration, the Holy Rosary Catholic Church was attacked with stones and rocks.

    The murder of the two brothers, whose arrest had shocked the Christian world, coincides with a visit to Pakistan by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

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    See also

    17/10/2012 PAKISTAN
    Rimsha Masih's trial adjourned to 14 November as anti-Christian violence continues
    The High Court in Islamabad delays the trial before deciding whether to drop the blasphemy charges or not. The girl's lawyers want the case thrown out of court. In Karachi, a mob of extremists attack St Francis Catholic Church. In Faisalabad, Christians praying for Malala Yousafzai come under attack.

    12/10/2004 PAKISTAN
    Violence against the mentally disabled accused of blasphemy

    Christian physicians and lawyers say that Islam is being used to discriminate against disabled people.



    23/06/2011 PAKISTAN
    Doubts and surprise among Christians over the first arrest in the Shahbaz Bhatti murder case
    After a long period of silence, it is “odd” that the one person who is arrested is an employee of the slain minister who worked for him for ten years, the bishop of Islamabad noted. A Catholic activist finds the direction of the investigation “surprising” and full of oddities. The job of the minister’s brother Paul is at risk, but for the latter it is “premature” to say anything about the probe, urging everyone to wait for the end of the interrogations.

    11/01/2006 PAKISTAN
    Blasphemy charge against Sangla Hill Christian withdrawn

    The main accuser admitted that he had made the charge on the basis of "mere suspicion". A reconciliation document has been signed by Christians and Muslims.



    22/02/2006 PAKISTAN
    Sangla Hill Christian accused of blasphemy released

    He was released on bail; the accusation had already been withdrawn last month. In November, his case led to the eruption of violence against churches and Christians' homes.





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