Pakistani Christians being raped and killed

A Pakistani believer who is a member of Christians Together website has reported serious trouble in his country, with Christians being accused under the countries blasphemy laws relating to the Islamic faith. Please pray for him (the Lord knows his name) and all the other believers in the country.

See following report and also 'Urgent Prayer Alert' (following report).

report by Christian Solidarity Worldwide
pakistanProtests took place yesterday in Lahore and Karachi in Pakistan in the wake of the shooting of two Christians accused of blasphemy, Rashid and Sajid Emmanuel.

Hundreds of Christians and other minorities and human rights organisations took to the streets to call for justice for Rashid and Sajid Emmanuel, and for Christian nurse Magdaline Ashraf, who was raped by a Muslim doctor and thrown out of a hospital window. They also called for the repeal of the controversial blasphemy law.

The rallies were coordinated by the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA). Father Emmanuel, the National Director of the Justice and Peace Commission was in attendance, along with Father Abid Habib, Chair of the Justice and Peace Commission in Multan. Long-term human rights activist and APMA Group Captain Cecil Chaudhry led the protest in Lahore and spoke out strongly against the the killing of Rashid and Sajid Emmanuel. He also criticized the death threats against the Minister for Minorities Affairs, Shahbaz Bhatti, whose firm stance against the blasphemy laws led to a direct and public threat against his life being made by an extremist Muslim cleric in Sindh.

Rashid and Sajid Emmanuel were shot while in police custody outside court in Faisalabad on 19 July. A police official was also wounded in the incident. They had been accused of blasphemy against the Prophet Mohammed but initial investigations had already revealed that the accusations were fabricated. The Minister for Minorities Affairs, Shahbaz Bhatti, held a press conference on 20 July at which he spoke out strongly against the misuse of the blasphemy laws at the root of the incident.

There has been civil unrest in the affected areas of Faisalabad both in connection with the accusations and the murders. The President of Pakistan and Chief Justice of Lahore have made statements on the case and police officials have been charged with negligence.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide's (CSW's) National Director Stuart Windsor said, "The killing of Rashid and Sajid Emmanuel should not have happened and the scale of the reaction to it reflects this. The blasphemy laws are contributing to a dangerous long-term shift in social norms which makes it acceptable to fabricate blasphemy allegations against another person despite the severe, life threatening implications of such actions. We call upon the government of Pakistan to take action against those misusing the laws as well as those threatening Minister Bhatti."

Urgent prayer alert:
Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan’s Minister for Minorities Affairs, receives violent threats

Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Minorities Affairs, is under violent threats from an extremist Islamic organisation.

In a media statement last week, an extremist organisation issued a direct warning at Mr Bhatti that he will be ‘beheaded’ if he insists on the repeal of the blasphemy laws and demanded that Mr Bhatti be ousted from the Federal Cabinet and National Assembly.

The threats came following a hard-hitting press conference held by Mr Bhatti in response to the murder of two Christian brothers, Rashid and Sajid Emmanuel, falsely accused of blasphemy. Mr Bhatti made strong calls for the repeal of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, which are often misused to target Christians and other religious minorities.

As yet, the government hasn’t responded to these threats, but contacts on the ground are adamant that behaviour of this kind should not be tolerated by the state and await a firm response.

Those of you who attended the CSW London Conference in 2009 will remember hearing Mr Bhatti’s moving speech in which he spoke openly about the risks he faces speaking up for religious minorities in Pakistan. You will also remember his passionate plea for us to take one minute every day to pray for him. In light of these latest threats, please uphold him in your individual and church prayers.

Please pray:
For God’s protection, strength and comfort for Mr Bhatti in the face of violent threats.

That the threats made by this organisation will come to nothing and that God will turn the hearts of those involved who seek to do harm.

That the government would intervene to support Mr Bhatti, denouncing the threats made against him and providing greater security measures for Mr Bhatti.

For the family of the two Christian brothers who were murdered and all those who are speaking up on their behalf.

Thank you for all you do to support those persecuted for their faith.


Pakistan Christian government minister is accused of committing blasphemy
Muslim cleric demands removal of Shahbaz Bhatti from the Cabinet
By Dan Wooding

Allama Ahmed Mian Hammadi, a Pakistani Muslim cleric, has claimed that Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Minorities has himself committed blasphemy by branding the recently murdered Christian brothers as victims of Pakistan blasphemy laws.

Bhatti had spoken out about the murder on Monday, June 19, 2010, of Rashid Emmanuel, 30, and his brother Sajid, 27, by unidentified masked gunmen inside a courthouse in Faisalabad. The brothers had been accused of blaspheming the Prophet Muhammad earlier this month, a charge they had both denied

According to Mr. Hammadi’s statement, published in Daily Jasarat, a Pakistani Urdu daily newspaper, the Muslim cleric said that Muslims cannot tolerate blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad.

“It is not a cruelty to kill blasphemers, rather blasphemy itself is such an enormous brutality that the one who commits it neither has got a right to live in this world nor is there any pardon for the blasphemer,” Daily Jasarat quoted Mr. Hammadi as saying.

“Muslims won’t tolerate even a slightest blasphemy against Prophet Muhammad. If Shahbaz Bhatti committed blasphemy he would be beheaded.”

He maintained: “A Muslim loves [the] Prophet Muhammad more than anyone else.”

The newspaper quoted Mr. Hammadi as saying that the incident of killing of the Christian brothers due to non implementation of the blasphemy laws in Pakistan.

According to the newspaper, the Muslim cleric criticized Mr. Bhatti for stating that the law had been abused vis-à-vis the case of the Christian brothers.

“No law has been implemented in this case. Court implements the law not people,” Daily Jasarat quoted Mr. Hammadi as saying. “Christian brothers were killed after Muslims became angry.”

Mr. Hammadi, according to Jasarat, also demanded the arrest of Christian rioters who he said threw stones at the houses of Muslims after the murder of the Christian brothers in Faisalabad on Monday, July 19, 2010.

Khuram/Christian Solidarity Worldwide, 27/07/2010