Christian couple beaten to death, burned by Pakistani mob
A Christian couple from the province of Punjab, accused of "blasphemy," was surrounded by a mob of angry Pakistanis and beaten to death. The bodies were then burned in a kiln where they worked.
The latest incident took place in a village in Punjab province on Tuesday when a local cleric told his community through the loudspeakers of his mosque to punish the couple for burning a few pages of the Quran, a police source said.
A mob then gathered outside the house of Shehzad Masih, 32, and his wife Shama, in her 20s, dragged them out and beat them to death, police said.
Their bodies were then set on fire in a brick kiln where they worked.
"We have arrested 44 people, it was a local issue incited by the mullah of a local mosque," Jawad Qamar, a regional police chief, told Reuters.
"No particular sectarian group or religious outfit was behind the attack."
Blasphemy charges, even when they go to court, are punishable by death in Muslim-majority Pakistan. They are hard to fight because the law does not define clearly what is blasphemous. Presenting the evidence can sometimes itself be considered a fresh infringement.
Christians make up about four percent of Pakistan's population and tend to keep a low profile in a country where Sunni Muslim militants frequently bomb targets they see as heretical, including Christians, and Sufi and Shia Muslims.
Punjab police spokeswoman Nabila Ghazanfar said the couple, like many other poor Christians in the area, worked in a brick kiln owned by a local man who has also been arrested.
"Three days ago, a co-worker alleged that they had burnt pages of the holy Quran. On Tuesday morning, a mob gathered outside their house, dragged them out, beat and burnt them in the same kiln where they worked," she said.
All of Pakistan's minorities feel that the state fails to protect them, and even tolerates violence against them.
A local journalist, who spoke on condition of anonymity for security reasons, said police were too slow to act to protect the couple.
"Police did not take it seriously. Later they sent five officers to the spot," the journalist said. "The couple was thrashed and burnt in their presence."
Most of those arrested will not face prosecution. Those who are convicted will be given light sentences. This is how the Pakistani government "protects" its minorities.
Islamists are on the rise in Pakistan - a nuclear power. The Pakistan Muslim League is the dominant political party while the Pakistan People's Party, formerly the leading party in the country and considered more secularly oriented, has slowly been slipping into Islamism. The army is becoming radicalized and, as this incident shows, the mullahs are becoming bolder in applying Shariah law.
Except for a few backward publications like this one, barely a peep about this slaughter has been reported. Just another example of Muslim fanaticism leading to the death of Christians.
Nothing to see here...move along.