Gunmen have killed two Pakistani Christian brothers, Rashid Emmanuel, 36, and his younger brother Sajid Emmanuel, 30, who had been accused of blasphemy against Islam, as they left courthouse on Monday (July 19, 2010), in the eastern city of Faislabad.
The brothers were chained together when the attack took place as they were being taken back into custody after their court appearance.
Rashid and Sajid Emmanuel had been running “United Ministries Pakistan” for the last two years in Daudnagar near the Warispura Christian colony of Faisalabad.
The pair was accused by Khurram Shahzad, a Muslim man, of pasting allegedly blasphemous posters in a truck station in Faisalabad.
According to Walter Naveed of Human Rights Focus Pakistan, the two Christian “blasphemers” were shot dead on court premises. He disclosed that one of the two brothers died on the spot while the other succumbed to his fatal injuries in the hospital.
Mr. Naveed said that a police official, who was escorting the two brothers, also “received bullets.”
ANS has discovered that the bodies of the deceased were taken to the Allied Hospital Faisalabad for an autopsy.
ANS has been receiving reports from Christian rights activists in Faisalabad that Muslims had been demanding death for Christian brothers.
The killing of the pair has escalated tension among Christian residents of Faisalabad.
Mr. Naveed said that thousands of Christians have been gathering in front of the house of deceased after hearing the shock news of their murders and many believe that the gruesome killing of the two brothers could spark angry protests from the Christians of Faisalabad.
“They [the Christians] are outraged at the killings. The situation here is very tense and highly volatile,” Mr. Naveed told ANS.
Christians had staged protest demonstrations in Pakistani city of Sialkot in September 2009 when Robert, nicknamed as Fanish, a young Christian man, was allegedly killed in police custody.
The Christian brothers’ killing at court premises in Faisalabad on Monday is reminiscent of the murder of Manzoor Masih, a Christian blasphemy-accused who was gunned down in a court premises in Pakistani city of Gujranwala on April 5, 1994.
Sohail Johnson of Sharing Life Ministry Pakistan has criticized the lack of security for the two Christian brothers who were shot dead on Monday.
Pakistani religious minorities, including Christians, have long been demanding repeal of Pakistan’s disputed blasphemy laws.
The European Parliament passed a resolution on religious freedom in Pakistan on May 20, 2010. The resolution called for a “thoroughgoing review” of the blasphemy laws.
Dan Wooding, Assist News Service