Pakistani Christians shocked at callous court murders

By staff writers
23 Jul 2010

Christians in Pakistan have been stunned by the killing of two young men, who were shot dead on court premises earlier this week.

The men were taken there by police to face a charge of insulting Islam under the country's internationally criticised blasphemy laws.

The Justice and Peace Commission of the Roman Catholic Church in Pakistan has named the two men as Rashid Emmanuel, a pastor, and his brother, Sajid Emmanuel.

The men were leaving the court in Faisalabad accompanied by a police officer on Monday, when unidentified gunmen opened fire, killing the two Christians and injuring the police officer.

A policeman was wounded in the attack before the gunmen fled the scene.

The two were accused of writing a pamphlet which included statements against the Prophet Muhammad – a crime punishable by death in Pakistan.

Pakistan’s Minister for Minority Affairs, Shahbaz Bhatti, commented: ""I personally don't think that anyone who wrote derogatory things against Muhammad would put their names on the bottom. This was just to settle a personal issue."

The Centre for Legal Aid and Assistance in Pakistan has called for the repeal of blasphemy laws and condemned the killings.

"It is incomprehensible that the police escorting them from court failed in their duty to protect them," a CLAA spokesperson said. "Their deaths leave us all the more concerned for the safety of other Christians facing blasphemy charges at present."

He continued: "It is imperative that the Pakistani Government repeal the blasphemy laws and put an end to the brutal persecution of Christians they encourage.”

Christians in Faisalabad are reported to be on high alert after the murders. There have been demonstrations and tensions are "running high".

[Ekk/3]

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