07/20/2010, 00.00
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Indian Muslim condemns the murder of Christian brothers accused of blasphemy

by 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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