Two Christians were shot and killed on their way from a courthouse to jail after being accused by Pakistani Muslims of blasphemy because, according to an analyst, innocence in such a situation “doesn’t matter.”
“It’s not rational,” Jonathan Racho of International Christian Concern told WND. “It’s not something you can justify with reasoning. In the minds of radicals, if a Christian is accused of blasphemy, even if the Christian has not done it, and even if the police have proved that the person hasn’t done it, it doesn’t matter for them.”
Racho was commenting on the recent rioting that broke out in the Pakistani city of Faisalabad after two Christians, a pastor and his brother, were murdered. Authorities report 36-year-old Rashid Emmanuel and his brother, Sajid, 30, were shot and killed on the Faisalabad courthouse steps.
They had been taken there on accusations of blaspheming Muhammad, the founder of the 1,400-year-old religion of Islam.
Both men had been charged under Sections 295-B and 295-C of Pakistan’s blasphemy law. The brothers had been accused of circulating a handwritten pamphlet that denigrated Muhammad.
Racho said a forensic analysis of the handwriting showed that the brothers could not have written the document.
“The police came up with an expert witness and the expert testified that the handwriting on the pamphlet doesn’t match Rashid or Sajid’s handwriting. So obviously, someone else must have written it and put the brother’s names and phone numbers on it,” Racho said.
Guilt or innocence, however, apparently didn’t matter. Christians protested the shooting deaths of the two, and Muslim organizations responded with a rampage that included looting and vandalism of shops and houses owned by Christians in the Warispura section of the city.
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Intelligence analyst Bill Warner, who heads the Center for the Study of Political Islam, says he’s not surprised by the shootings.
“The killing of a blasphemer is pure Shariah and is Sunna, the perfect example of Muhammad,” Warner observed.
Racho agreed Pakistan’s blasphemy laws make attacks like this one not only possible but acceptable.
“The simple fact that they’re accused of blasphemy by Muslims is sufficient to show that being a Christian is enough for Muslim radicals to carry out these kinds of attacks,” Racho said.
Racho said Shariah and Pakistan’s criminal code makes “guilt by accusation” possible.
“This is how the mentality works. If a Christian is accused, for them the Christian is guilty. It’s frustrating what is going on and what is happening to Christians in Pakistan,” Racho said.
“Christians in Pakistan are treated like third-class citizens, and it’s almost on a daily basis that the Christians in Pakistan face discrimination, and it’s very common for Christians to be killed, for Christians to face a blasphemy charge without committing any blasphemy actually,” Racho continued.
“This blasphemy charge has actually become a tool for Muslims to carry out attacks and to settle personal quarrels with Christians,” Racho explained.
Blasphemy is covered in Sections 295-B and 295-C of Pakistan’s Criminal Code. Section 295-B provides that anyone desecrating the Quran can be given a life term in prison.
Section 295-C says that anyone who blasphemes the name of Muhammad can be given a death sentence.
Racho said it’s easy for the people to use the system.
“The Muslims know the law and whenever they want to persecute a Christian, any Christian, they simply go ahead and accuse the Christian of blasphemy,” Racho said.
“Once a Christian has been accused and once others have heard about it, they’ll start organizing a protest and organize a mob and attack other Christians,” Racho added.
He said the present situation in Pakistan is a good example. After the Christians protested the shootings, Muslim mobs organized and began to attack Christian homes and businesses.
Warner believes the riots and violence reveal the basic nature of Islam.
“Muhammad repeatedly had people murdered, assassinated and executed for nothing more that disagreeing with him. When he conquered Mecca he issued death warrants for all the intellectuals and artists who had opposed him. To disagree with Muhammad was and is a capital offense,” Warner stated.
WND reported in March Pakistani woman Asia Bibi still was in jail awaiting trial on her September 2009 blasphemy charge. A court hearing for Bibi set for this week was canceled.
Assist News Service reports that a number of Christians in Faisalabad have moved to other villages or gone into hiding because they feared another Gojra-like situation could be developing.
Human-rights groups report that there have been seven anti-Christian attacks in Pakistan in July alone and over 20 violent acts against Christians in Pakistan this year.
The Pakistani government has not responded to any requests for comment on this story.