Pakistan (MNN) — Several reports confirm the murders of two Christian brothers in Faisalabad, Pakistan earlier this week.
Pastor Rashid Emmanuel and his brother, Sajid Emmanuel, were leaders of United Ministries Pakistan. Earlier this month, were accused of blasphemy–a crime potentially punishable by death.
Sources say that the complainant in the case, Khurram Shehzad, claimed that one of his employees had been handed a pamphlet which contained disrespectful comments about the Prophet Muhammad. The pamphlet had the addresses and phone numbers of the Emmanuel brothers listed on it and was also apparently signed by the two.
After the two brothers were taken into custody, violence broke out against Christians in the Waris Pura slum–a mostly Christian area. According to the BBC, several hundred demonstrators stormed the village, demanding that the brothers be killed.
The brothers were kept safe, however, until July 19 when they had a court appearance for the case. According to Compass Direct News, handwriting specialists confirmed in court that the brothers had not signed the pamphlets. Spokesman for the Pakistan Minorities Democratic Foundation Atif Jameel just appealed to common sense. "No one in his right mind would issue a derogatory pamphlet against the Prophet and put his name and address on it," Jameel told BBC.
Despite proof that the men had been framed, when the court adjourned, an unidentified man opened gun fire. Shots hit both brothers and a policeman escorting them. The two brothers were killed, and the police officer remains in critical condition.
Several sources confirm that rioting broke out after the shots, beginning with outraged Christians throwing rocks at Muslim shops and hurling insults at extremists. Many Muslims retaliated, causing violence that lasted for hours and destroyed the shops and homes of many Christians.
This is not the first time that men have been killed by extremists after being accused of blasphemy. The blasphemy laws are reported to have been used to settle personal matters frequently in the past. But as a result of ongoing violence, many Christians and organizations are calling for the laws to be repealed. Minorities Concern of Pakistan as well as Human Rights Focus Pakistan are among the groups advocating for the laws' repeal.
Christians may still be in danger in the aftermath of this terrible incident. Pray that believers would be kept safe and that they would not hesitate to reach out to non-believers, despite recent events. Pray also for blasphemy laws to be repealed so that Christians may not be victims to such atrocities in the future.