Pakistan: Blasphemy law behind horrific murder of Christian couple by enraged mob

Pakistan: Blasphemy law behind horrific murder of Christian couple by enraged mob

Incited by announcements over mosque loudspeakers in nearby villages, hundreds of Muslims dragged Shahzad and Shama out of a room where they were being held against their will, beat them with clubs, and then burnt them alive in a brick kiln, according to eyewitness accounts given to the Legal Evangelical Association Development (LEAD), a non-profit advocacy group.

Other Christian laborers employed at the kiln in Punjab province fled in fear of their lives.

Earlier, Shama had reportedly burned some papers and items belonging to her recently-deceased father-in-law, and a Muslim co-worker claimed to have found burnt remnants of pages from a Qur’an. LEAD said the eyewitness said the couple had wanted to flee, but their employer claimed they owed him money and detained them in a room, where they were still being held when attacked on Tuesday.

A relative told Pakistani media that the couple were in their early 30s, had three children and that Shama was expecting their fourth. …

Under Pakistan’s penal code, a person convicted of insulting Mohammed or “desecrating” the Qur’an faces a death sentence or life imprisonment. According to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) at least 14 Pakistanis convicted of blasphemy are currently on death row and 19 others serving life sentences. (Last month a High Courtupheld the death sentence of Asia Bibi, the first Christian woman to be sentenced to death for blasphemy.)

Muslims frequently take the law into their own hands, attacking the supposed blasphemer. The National Commission for Justice and Peace, a Catholic body, recorded at least 51 deaths in such attacks between 1990 and 2012.

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