Pakistani Christians are mourning the death of two brothers, Christian pastor Rashid Emmanuel and his brother Sajjad, who were shot to death on court house ground on July 19, 2010 in Faisalabad, Pakistan. The two brothers had left a court hearing on on charges of “blasphemy,” when they were gunned down and their police escort wounded by what COMPASS Direct News reports as “five armed, masked men.” The Pakistan Christian Post reports that on July 20, “the two brothers were buried in the Jamra Road grave yard after their last rites were completed in a catholic Church.”
The Pakistan Christian Post reported that the Pakistan police had concluded that there was no evidence of blasphemy” against the two Christian men, and that the handwriting on the “blasphemous” leaflets that they were charged with did not match the handwriting of the suspects. Dawn reported that the alleged “blasphemous” leaflets “unbelievably, also contained phone numbers” of the brothers. The Pakistan Christian Post reported that “investigation officer Mohammad Hussian produced Rashid Emmanuel and Sajjid Emmanuel before Judge in District Courts where he testified that police have investigated allegations leveled against them but found no proof that they may be charged under blasphemy.” BBC reported that “Atif Jameel, spokesman for the Pakistan Minorities Democratic Foundation, told the BBC: ‘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.'” Asia IT News reports the two men had continued to assert their innocence. Dawn reported that “Khurram, believed to be an activist of the little known Tehrik-i-Hurmat-i-Rasool, got the two brothers arrested.”
The men were then ambushed by masked gunmen who waiting for the two Christian brothers on the court house steps. According to the Pakistan Christian Post, “As there were rumors that Rashid Emmanuel and Sajjid Emmanuel are found innocent and will be released, the extremists Muslims reached in District Courts Faisalabad and were waiting for them to come out of court house. As Rashid Emmanuel and Sajjid Emmanuel were walking towards district courts custody cell with police, the unidentified gunmen opened fire and Rashid Emmanuel felt on ground. Sajjid Emmanuel stepped to save his brother but gunmen shot him down too.” Asia IT News reports that “For several days, Muslim religious leaders in Faisalabad had been fanning the flame of hatred against the two brothers, calling for their death.” COMPASS Direct News also reported that Christian Lawyers’ Foundation (CLF) “President Khalid Gill said the bodies of the two Christians bore cuts and other signs of having been tortured, including marks on their faces, while the brothers were in police custody.”
The Pakistan Christian Post indicated that previously “The Muslims took out a procession on July 10, 2010, when they burnt tires and pelted stones on Catholic Church Warispura Faisalabad. The mob threatened that if these brothers are not executed according to Muslim law, the mob will exact revenge not only on them, but the entire Christian community.” The Pakistan Daily Times similarly reported: “Earlier this month, about 400 demonstrators burnt tires and held protests in the Waris Pura neighborhood of Faisalabad, a slum inhabited by nearly 100,000 Christians, demanding the death penalty for the accused.” Asia IT News reported: “Immediately right after their arrest, Muslims organized a protest demonstration, calling for the two Christian brothers to be put to death.”
After the outrageous broad daylight murder of Pakistani Christians in police custody, protest demonstrations occurred in the Christian community in the brothers’ native area of Daoodnag. Dawn reported that “Monday’s killings led to violent protests by the Christian community in the brothers’ native area of Daoodnagar; a section of the Muslim community reacted by asking the people over mosque loudspeakers to ‘fight the rampaging’ Christians. The situation grew volatile enough to necessitate the imposition of Section 144 for the maintenance of public order.”
According to the Pakistan Christian Post, “The family members protested against murder of Emmanuel Brothers but Muslim Imamas of mosques announced ‘Muslims come out of homes and let us kill all infidel Christians.’ On which Muslims organizations took out rallies and processions to justify killing of Christians. Heavy contingent of police noted the situation and dispersed the protestors.”
In the July 21, 2010 Dawn editorial “Jungle Justice,” Dawn stated that “There have been several instances where police apathy, perhaps in some cases connivance, has led to under-trial prisoners being targeted by vengeful elements on the court premises. Where the charge involves religion, there is a greater need for the police to be vigilant when escorting the accused to or from court, given the kind of fury that allegations of blasphemy unleash…. Such cases are a reminder of how allegations of blasphemy can be used to incite jungle justice and mob violence that often mask the real motives behind the targeting of individuals. The motives can range from the settling of personal scores to property disputes…The result is the creation of an atmosphere of fear and violent mistrust that could lead to the targeting of more members of the Christian community… Arrests under Section 295-C of the PPC for allegations of blasphemy illustrates the dangers inherent in a law that lends itself to misuse. The blasphemy law is rightly criticized for the manner in which it can be abused. We must also note that it helps foster a societal mindset of jungle justice where individuals feel that it is right to take the law into their own hands. The blasphemy law must be repealed.”
UCAN News reports that Pakistani Christians have been urged by Christian leaders to remain restrained and peaceful, and to show respect to other religions, even in the face of continuous attacks. UCAN News reports “Dominican Father Pascal Paulus told parishioners at Holy Rosary Church at Mass on July 18. ‘Respect Islam and try to be tolerant and peaceful,’ the priest said after the church was stoned on July 10 by a crowd of 100 angry Muslims carrying sticks and glass bottles.”
Choose Love, Not Hate. Love Wins.
Responsible for Equality And Liberty (R.E.A.L.) sends it sympathies to yet another violent attack on a religious minority group in Pakistan, and urges the Pakistan people to take these atrocities seriously.
To those who believe religious freedom and freedom of worship are at a majority group’s choice, we point out once again how such atrocities against human rights clearly demonstrate the necessity of such fundamental basic UNIVERSAL human rights for everyone. Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”
Responsible for Equality And Liberty (R.E.A.L.) supports our universal human rights of religious freedom, freedom of conscience, and freedom of worship for all people. R.E.A.L. rejects hatred and rejects the activities of those who seek to promote hatred and violence towards identity groups and specific religions.
Choose Love, Not Hate. Love Wins.