ROME, JULY 20, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The murder of two Christians in Pakistan outside of a courthouse where they were on trial for insulting Mohammed has re-ignited calls for an end to Pakistani blasphemy laws.
The slaying Monday of Rashid Emmanuel and his brother Sajid Masih was widely reported in Rome by Vatican and other Church media sources.
The brothers had been imprisoned for the last three weeks. At the hearing prior to their murder, a police report had attested to their innocence.
Those who shot the brothers outside the courthouse escaped without arrest.
Bishop Joseph Coutts of Faisalabad presided over a funeral service today.
He told the Fides news agency that he spoke to the people about offering “the blood of these innocents to God with the Blood of Christ.”
“It will serve for our salvation and we hope to heal our community of Faisalabad from the sicknesses of hatred and violence,” said the prelate.
Bishop Coutts explained that the brothers belonged to a Catholic family and both had been baptized. Recently, one of the two, Rashid, through a brief course on the Internet, received a mandate from a Protestant group to preach the Bible.
In the days preceding the murder, there were already demonstrations by associations of Muslim fundamentalists. During one of these events, protestors threw stones at the Church of the Holy Rosary. They also were calling for the death penalty for the brothers.
Peter Jacob, executive secretary of the Pakistani bishops’ National Commission for Justice and Peace, in speaking with L’Osservatore Romano, renewed an appeal to change Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. He said they are often used as a pretext by fundamentalists to persecute Christians.
“It is necessary,” he said, “to convince the government and public opinion that this law is dangerous for the very survival of Pakistan.”