Published: 10:00 GMT Daylight Time - Thursday 21 April 2011
Killer of Christian brothers given death penalty in Pakistan
Rashid & Sajid Emmanuel
Image source: www.assistnews.net
The killer of two Christian brothers falsely accused of blasphemy in Pakistan has been sentenced to death in a rare case of justice for the country's maligned Christian community. But the news comes amid further arrests of Pakistani Christians on lurid blasphemy allegations.
Maqsood Ahmed was convicted on 18 April of the murders of Pastor Rashid (30) and Sajid (27) Emmanuel and sentenced to hang for the crime. They were gunned down on 19 July 2010 as they were escorted from court in Faisalabad following their first appearance on blasphemy charges.
CLAAS, a Christian legal centre in Pakistan supported by Barnabas Aid, said this was the first case in a long time in which victims of a false blasphemy accusation have had their case heard properly by the courts and the persecutor punished according to the law.
Further blasphemy victims
But sadly, Christians are continuing to fall victim to malicious blasphemy accusations in Pakistan. The latest involves Mushtaq Gill and his son Farrukh Mushtaq Gill, who were arrested in Gujranwala on 15 April after being accused of desecrating the Quran.
Announcements were made over local mosque loudspeakers after Friday prayers, inciting Muslims to attack the family's home and the Christian Technical Training Centre (CTTC), where Mushtaq Gill is a teacher. As a mob descended and attacked Christian homes in the area, hundreds of Christians fled. Mushtaq and Farrukh were detained by police and cases registered against them under sections 295-B, desecrating the Quran, and 295-C, defiling the name of Muhammad, of the Pakistan Penal Code. The latter carries a mandatory death penalty; Christian mother of five Aasia Bibi is currently awaiting execution
The pair have previously been accused of blasphemy but found innocent. It appears that they are being targeted, possibly out of jealously for the family's success in a society where Christians are heavily discriminated against. As well as holding his position at the training centre, Mushtaq is a church leader, and Farrukh works in a bank, where he has recently been promoted. Pakistan's blasphemy laws are often used to settle personal scores with Christians and other non-Muslims, who are especially vulnerable to false accusations.
A Barnabas Aid partner in Pakistan contacted us about this incident, requesting prayer for the whole family. The situation remains tense with the threat of further Muslim protests.
The case follows that of Arif Masih, who was accused of blasphemy following a property dispute with a local Muslim. He was arrested at his home in Faisalabad on 5 April following an allegation that he had ripped pages out of the Quran. Mr Masih was later released after a police investigation found him innocent; the case against him has been dismissed.
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