Thursday, April 21, 2011

Killer of Christian Emmanuel brothers gets death sentence in Pakistan

Rashid (L) and Sajid (R) Emmanuel
(Photo ASSIST News)
In July 2010, we shared with you that two Pakistani brothers were shot and killed after they were accused of blaspheming the prophet Muhammad. Rev. Rashid Emmanuel and Sajid Emmanuel, leaders of United Ministries Pakistan, were being returned to jail under police custody when they were attacked and shot by several masked men.

On April 18, an anti-terrorism court in Pakistan’s Faisalabad district sentenced to death Maqsood Ahmed, who was convicted of killing the brothers and injuring a police inspector, reported ASSIST News Service.

The court imposed a $47,784 fine on the convict and sentenced him to multiple 10-year prison terms.

ASSIST News reported that the ruling is a good sign for Christians, and other religious minorities in Pakistan, as it is the first ever case of its kind where the accusations were heard on merit by the honourable court, and the accused was punished according to the law.

The brothers were arrested in early July after being presented with a three-page document that insulted Muhammad and was supposedly signed by the two of them. Handwriting experts notified police that the signatures on the document did not match the brothers' writing. Sources believe the brothers were likely to be exonerated of the charges.

In the days before the murder, Muslims organized large demonstrations calling for the death penalty for the brothers.

When news of the murder reached the brothers' neighbourhood of Dawood Nagar, Faisalabad, Christians gathered to protest. Police fired teargas cannons at the protestors, who in turn threw stones. The situation quickly became volatile, with indiscriminate shooting occurring between Christians and Muslims.

Joseph Francis, chairman of the Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS) has appealed to Christians around the world to “pray for all innocent persons detained under blasphemy and other discriminatory allegations” and added, “May the God, our Lord, protect them from the illegal decisions of the courts as well as preserve those falsely accused of blasphemy from their co-prisoners.”

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