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Over 800 Christian and Muslim rioters face arrest in Pakistan

Police have named over 800 unidentified people in its First Information Report (FIR) for rioting on Monday, June 19, 2010, after murder of two Christian brothers outside a court in Faisalabad.

Rashid Emmanuel, 30, and his brother Sajid, 27, were accused of blaspheming the Prophet Muhammad earlier this month, a charge they both denied.

Local Christians took to the streets after hearing the news of murder of the Christian brothers. The angry Christians chanted slogans and caused some damage to properties to vent their anger.

Muslims, in retaliation, also took out rallies which aggravated the already tense situation.

Hundreds of armed Christians and Muslims maintained their presence on local roads until 3 am on Monday.

Mr. Naveed Walter, President of Human Rights Focus Pakistan told ANS that Christians also face arrests after the lodging of the FIR against over 800 unidentified people.

The Christian rights activist said that the administration named these many people in the FIR to force Christians to “broker reconciliation with the Muslims.”

According to Mr. Naveed the situation continues to be “tense” in the Warispura area of Faisalabad.

“I had been awake until 5:00 in the morning the other day as I had been fearing more trouble from the Muslims,” he told ANS.

Human Rights Focus Pakistan, he said, has urged Christians across Pakistan to “observe a week of mourning.”

He said that the HRFP had decided to observe Wednesday, August 11, 2010, as a “Black Day.”

Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, had pledged to ensure equal rights to all Pakistani citizens in a speech he made on August 11, 1947, while addressing the first constituent assembly of Pakistan.

The spokesman of the HRFP told ANS that they were observing August 11, 2010, as “Black Day” in protest over many incidents of injustice and discrimination against Pakistani Christians.

“We would express solidarity with our Christian brothers and sisters of Gojra as well as the oppressed and suffering Christians across Pakistan,” said Mr. Naveed.

Gojra, a small town in the Pakistani province of Punjab, drew international attention when Muslims burned seven Christians alive over rumors that Christians had committed blasphemy.

Mr. Naveed said that the HRFP had urged Christians across Pakistan to hoist “black flags” on their roofs on August 11, 2010.

“We are also urging Christians to wear black bands around their arms to protest injustice and oppression,” he went on to say.

Naveed said that organizations could either lodge “Black Day” protest individually or from the HRFP’s platform.

Asked if Muslims would take out a rally tomorrow (Friday), he said it was likely that they would stage a rally after Friday prayers. It is hoped that there will be no more violence at that time.

Dan Wooding, Assist News Service

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