July 20, 2010

Pakistani Christians murdered for ‘blasphemy’

by Benjamin Graham

Two Pakistani Christians accused of blasphemy were shot dead yesterday as they left a courthouse in the city of Faisalabad.

Masked gunmen opened fire on Pastor Rashid Emmanuel and his brother, Sajid Emmanuel, as police escorted the pair to jail.

A police officer was seriously wounded in the attack.

The brothers were arrested earlier this month accused of distributing a pamphlet containing blasphemous remarks about the Prophet Muhammad.

International Christian Concern, a US-based Christian persecution watchdog, condemned the shooting as “outrageous”.

“This is another indication of the value and status of Christians within Pakistan,” said Jonathan Racho, ICC’s regional manager for South Asia.

“We call upon the international community to hold Pakistan responsible for its mistreatment of Christian minorities.”

A human rights activist has claimed the brothers were framed, because the pamphlet included their name, telephone number, and address.

In an interview with the BBC, Atif Jameel, spokesperson for the Pakistan Minorities Democratic Foundation, said: “No-one in his right mind would issue a derogatory pamphlet against the Prophet and put his name and address on it.

“This appears to be a conspiracy against peace and religious harmony in Faisalabad.”

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