Pakistani police have taken at least 44 people into custody, following the murder of a Christian couple accused of blasphemy. Shahzad Masih, 28, and Shama Bibi, 25 were brutally killed by a mob after the couple was accused of burning a Quran and throwing it away.
Jawad Qamar, regional police chief of Kot Radha Kishan said, “We have arrested 44 people, it was a local issue incited by the mullah of a local mosque. No particular sectarian group or religious outfit was behind the attack."
Another Kot Radha Kishan official said, "A mob attacked [Christians] after accusing them of desecration of the Quran and later burnt their bodies at a brick kiln where they worked. Yesterday an incident of desecration of the Quran took place in the area and today the mob first beat the couple and later set their bodies on fire."
Watchdog groups are now speaking out against the strict blasphemy laws in the region.
International Christian Concern Regional Manager Todd Daniels said, "The brutal killing of Shahzad and Shama once again highlights the extreme danger of religious fanaticism that Christians in Pakistan face on a regular basis. The accusation of blasphemy can be used for any dispute and can often prove deadly as it did today, inciting a mob to brutally murder this young couple.”
"It remains urgent that the Pakistani government address the issue of false accusations of blasphemy. The actions taken by the federal courts in sentencing Christians like Asia Bibi to death provide motivation for mobs to carry out their own extrajudicial punishments."
Publication date: November 6, 2014