`Blasphemous` Christians killed outside Pakistan court

Two Christian brothers accused of writing a blasphemous pamphlet critical of the Prophet Mohammed were shot dead.

Updated: Jul 19, 2010, 21:51 PM IST

Lahore: Two Christian brothers accused of
writing a blasphemous pamphlet critical of the Prophet
Mohammed were shot dead on Monday outside a court in eastern
Pakistan, police and doctors said.

An unidentified youth shot dead pastor Rashid
Emmanuel, 32, and his brother Sajjad, and left their police
escort critically wounded, as they left a court hearing in
Faisalabad city, police official Amanullah Khan said to a news agency.

"Both brothers were rushed to hospital where they were
pronounced dead," Khan said.

Doctor Rana Bashir, chief of main Allied Hospital in
the city confirmed the deaths and said the wounded police
officer was undergoing surgery.

The brothers were arrested on July 2, with their
supporters claiming the charges against them were trumped up.

James Aftab, a senior church official in Faisalabad
said the men had been "implicated in a fake case" while Atif
Jamil Pagaan, a spokesman for Pakistan Minorities Democratic
Foundation, also said the men had been set up.

"The charges levied on them are false as no evidence
has been brought and no witness was present," he said, adding
that the pamphlets were handwritten and photocopied, and
anonymously distributed with the brothers` contact details.

Earlier this month, about 400 demonstrators burned
tyres and held protests in the low-income Waris Pura
neighbourhood of Faisalabad, a slum inhabited by nearly
100,000 Christians, demanding the death penalty for the
accused.

Pakistan`s controversial blasphemy law carries the
death penalty although no one has ever been sent to the
gallows for the crime.

Human rights activists want the legislation repealed,
saying it is exploited for personal enmity and encourages
Islamist extremism.

PTI