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2,000 Muslim militants go on rampage in Faisalabad; acquitted Christians murdered

Catholic World News - July 21, 2010

Two Pakistani Christians acquitted of blasphemy charges were murdered on July 19 as they left the courthouse. A police officer who accompanied them was injured in the attack.

Rashid Emmanuel and his brother, Sajid Emmanuel, had been arrested on July 4 after pamphlets critical of the Mohammed had been distributed. The brothers had grown up in a Catholic family; Rashid had recently become a Protestant pastor.

Following the murder of the brothers, some Christians took to the streets in grief and anger. “Emotional tension was high, there was some shouting, stone throwing against Muslim shops,” said Father Khalid Rashid Asi, vicar general of the Diocese of Faisalabad, Pakistan's third largest city.

That night, 2,000 Islamic militants-- urged at local mosques to “fight the infidels”-- went on a rampage in Waris Pura, a Christian district of Faisalabad. “The mob was out of control, shops and streets were devastated, there was shooting, looting and torching,” said Father Pascal Paulus, the local parish priest. “Some Christians were hurt, but the outcome could have been much worse.”

“We, four priests, went from door to door, begging Christians not to react, to stay calm, to avoid provoking a dangerous spiral of violence and revenge,” said Father Khalid Rashid Asi. “We reminded them: we belong to Christ, we love peace, we forgive our enemies.”

“The angry mob attack caused panic, shops and other buildings were damaged, but no one was killed or seriously hurt, only a few had slight injuries,” said Bishop Joseph Coutts of Faisalabad. “I must say that the authorities and the police were most efficient, they arrived immediately and the militants soon dispersed. Of course the defenseless, hunted Christian families are still under shock.”

On the morning of July 20, Bishop Coutts offered the funeral Mass for the two brothers; 500 Catholics were in attendance. “Many of the faithful were still too frightened to leave their homes,” added Father Khalid, the vicar general. “Some leading Muslim citizens expressed solidarity with the Christians and condemned the violence.”

“Amidst general feelings of grief, pain and emotional tension, I told our people that we would offer the blood of these innocent men together with the Blood of Christ,” said Bishop Coutts. “It will further our salvation and we hope, heal our city of Faisalabad of the sickness of hatred and violence.”

“The law against blasphemy is at the root of this tragic situation,” added Bishop Coutts. “The Church in Pakistan is in front line, with the Bishops' Commission for Justice and Peace, calling for the law to be withdrawn … However the blasphemy law is a product of a way of thinking, a cultural attitude: only with hard work at interreligious dialogue can we perhaps gradually change this mentality. Many Muslim leaders are angered by the international situation, and radical anti-west ideas and anti-Zionism circulate freely. Our work of mediation and peace building is not easy, but we trust in the help of God and all Christians in the world.”

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Show 5 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: hartwood01 - Jul. 23, 2010 8:04 PM ET USA

    Islam is a fast-growing religion,we Christians may get the opportunity to die for our faith!

  • Posted by: imanxufan9901 - Jul. 22, 2010 12:01 AM ET USA

    And we are supposed to believe islam is a peaceful religion!

  • Posted by: kmbold - Jul. 21, 2010 6:28 PM ET USA

    Well, that's curious, Rashid getting a Catholic funeral after becoming a Protestant pastor. Maybe under the circumstances one shouldn't quibble.

  • Posted by: myfile4147 - Jul. 21, 2010 5:45 PM ET USA

    Where is religious freedom? If we allow them that privledge, they should respect the Christian. Maybe that is why they keep eating dust and hate us so.. they will not prosper and can only live a good life in a country that is primarily CHRISTIAN.

  • Posted by: John J Plick - Jul. 21, 2010 11:45 AM ET USA

    They died for the Faith... It is an honor... We should ALL be ready.

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