Pakistani Christians protest against murder of Christians


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More than 150 Pakistani Christians gathered on Sunday (August 1, 2010) in front of the Sargodha Press Club (SPC) under the auspice of the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA), to protest against the brutal murders of the Emmanuel brothers -- Rashid Emmanuel, 30, and his brother Sajid, 27 -- who were gunned down as they were leaving a court in Faisalabad on July 19, 2010, on blasphemy charges, which they had both denied. They also protested in the searing heat of the day against the alleged rape last month of trainee nurse Magdalene Ashraf from Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC), Karachi, reports Dan Wooding, founder of ASSIST Ministries.

ANS witnessed that the Christians went on to demand the immediate repeal of all discriminatory laws including the controversial blasphemy laws.

The Sargodha protest rally was led by Punjab's Christian provincial parliamentarian, Tahir Naveed Chaudhary, also Farrukh Tanvir, APMA youth leader and Samuel Nazir Sandhu, APMA general secretary of the Sargodha region.

Dozens of eminent Christian from all walks of life -- sewer men to Christian clergy -- participated and displayed placards against the murder of both Christian brothers and alleged rape of the student nurse.

ANS witnessed that Christian protesters shouted slogans at the top of their voices with great enthusiasm that "B'ian, C'ian band kero", (Repeal the Blasphemy laws 295 A, B & C), and "Zulm kai yeh zabtay hun haein mantay", (We turn down the discriminatory laws).

There were placards that were inscribed that the [alleged] "rapists of nurse Magdalene must be arrested, fairly prosecuted and sternly punished by the court of law". Other placards said, "Talibanization is a threat to National Security', while other placards demanded, "abolish all discriminatory laws'. One of the placard said, "Blasphemy Laws are death warrant for the religious minorities".

It pertinent to mention here that all the protesters stopped shouting and making a noise in respect of the Muslim second prayer (Midday) of Zuher. It was a gesture of reconciliation and brotherhood by the Christians towards the Muslims who they feel had inflicted vicious atrocities upon their community.

After this, Tahir Naveed Chaudhary addressed the crowd and stated that no Christian would dare to pass out derogatory literature or make blasphemous remarks against Islam, the Quran or Muhammad, "particularly because all Christian are well aware that they would be hanged, their homes burnt down to ashes, and churches, Bibles and crosses would be desecrated and, most likely, whole Christian residential areas and other Christian infrastructure would be gutted and reduced to ashes".

Christian demonstrators dispersed peacefully after protesting for almost one hour with prayers and the blessing of Rev Irshad Masih of End Times Ministries of Gunianwala Sargodha and also the Rev Zafar Akhter, pastor in-charge of the Presbyterian Church Noori Gate, Sargodha.

Another protest demonstration that was scheduled to take place in front of Faisalabad Press Club (FPC), was cancelled due to "security reason" said a hands-on lawyer of APMA, Rai Naveed Zafar Bhatti.

Bhatti said, event though it was called off, that such discriminatory laws "must be immediately nullified due to which a huge number of Pakistanis [Christians and other minorities] who are living under the continuous threat of death". He also condemned the fanatics who have been "taking the law in their own hands and either kill or burn the houses of people who might be exonerated by the courts later".

Although the Faisalabad rally was cancelled, Bhatti took time out to say that the government of Pakistan's legislative bodies should "completely obliterate all discriminatory" laws like 295-A, 295-B and 295-C "which are mostly used to settle personal enmities and disputes".

Talking about the present situation in the Warispura area Faisalabad, ANS was told the situation is "still tense there" and particularly after the arrest of the Rana Maqsood, the alleged killer of the Emmanuel brothers.

Bruce Bhatti, a Christian journalist, said that Islamic pressure groups were escalating pressure on the police and administration to release the alleged killer of the Christian brothers.

There have been other protest rallies, led by Michael Javed of APMA, that were taken out against the vandalizing of Christians' shops and murder of Christian brothers. They took place on July 24, 2010 in Karachi and on July 25, 2010, in Lahore all under the auspices of APMA.