Two Christian men were shot to death as they left a courthouse on Monday, July 19, in Faisalabad, Pakistan, according to VOM sources. Rashid Emmanuel, 32, and his brother, Sajid, 30, were facing blasphemy charges after allegedly distributing papers that denigrated Mohammed.
According to eyewitnesses and VOM sources, police were leading the two brothers from the courthouse when masked men opened fire on them. The gunmen urged Muslim police officers to back away from the accused Christians to avoid being shot, according to VOM sources. No arrests have been made for the murders.
The murders came only five days after handwriting experts told police that signatures on the supposedly blasphemous papers did not match signatures of the accused Christians. Muslims in the area had marched in protest against the men, demanding punishment for the brothers’ alleged blasphemy.
According to Compass Direct News, an anonymous caller had arranged to meet with Rashid at a train station. When Rashid arrived at the station, he was surrounded by police carrying papers that contained writings against Mohammed along with the signatures and phone numbers of Rashid and his brother. Compass also reported that Rashid and his brother were leaders of United Ministries Pakistan.
VOM sources said Muslims in the area celebrated the killings with tea and candy, feeling that the Christians deserved death for disrespecting Islam and Mohammed.
“It is important for Christians in the U.S. to understand the blasphemy laws in Pakistan,” said VOM spokesperson Todd Nettleton. “These laws are basically a stick radical Muslims use to beat our Christian brothers and sisters. Charges are filed on the sketchiest of claims, and Christians are locked up, tortured and held — sometimes for years — while they wait for justice. And even if exonerated in court, they wear a target the rest of their lives.”
VOM contacts are working with officials in Pakistan to press for a full investigation of the men’s murders, but justice seems unlikely. American Christians are encouraged to pray for the families of the slain brothers as they mourn their loss. Also pray that Christians will respond with forgiveness and love instead of hatred, despite the attacks against them.
For another example of how blasphemy laws are used against Christians in Pakistan, please see the story of Asia Bibi, who has been in jail on blasphemy charges for more than a year. To date, she has had 22 court hearings with no resolution to the case. Please pray for Asia and her family. You can learn more about her case here.