Muslim gunmen shot and killed two Christian brothers accused of blasphemy against Islam in Pakistan yesterday. The murders occurred as the men – Rashid Emmanuel, 36, and his brother Sajid Emmanuel, 30 – were walking out of court in Faisalabad. The brothers were arrested last month ago after officials found leaflets bearing their names and derogatory remarks against Muhammad. They were standing trial on related charges.
Pakistan’s Minister of Minority Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti Bhatti acknowledged on Monday that he suspects the charges against the men were fabricated by Muslim conservatives who may have had a grudge against the men.
Christian have roundly condemned Pakistan’s blasphemy laws which are often used as a pretext for persecution, including violence and murder.
“Jesus, we pray today for all our brothers and sisters living in places where it is dangerous to carry the name “Christian.” We know that you have told us to expect opposition and persecution, just as you yourself were opposed. Still, we pray for their protection, for encouragement and courage and comfort. Let them know that they are not alone – that you stand with them and that we too stand with them. We are bold too to ask for a change in the governmental policies and cultural oppression in these countries where following Jesus is rejected. In Pakistan specifically, we pray that the blasphemy laws would be overturned. We pray that the growing Christian movement in Pakistan would be bolstered and protected through this time and that just laws and just officials would protect instead of threaten them. We pray this in Jesus’ Name…”