Pakistan couple killed on blasphemy suspicion

Mob kills Christian couple working in a brick kiln for allegedly desecrating a Quran, police say.

    Rights groups have been demanding better protection for minorities in Pakistan [EPA]
    Rights groups have been demanding better protection for minorities in Pakistan [EPA]

    A Christian couple was beaten to death in Pakistan and their bodies burnt in the brick kiln where they worked for allegedly desecrating a Quran, police said.

    The incident took place in the town of Kot Radha Kishan, some 60km southwest of Lahore, and is the latest example of mob violence against minorities accused of blasphemy.

    "A mob attacked a Christian couple after accusing them of desecration of the holy Quran and later burnt their bodies at a brick kiln where they worked," local police station official Bin-Yameen told AFP.

    "Yesterday an incident of desecration of the holy Quran took place in the area and today the mob first beat the couple and later set their bodies on fire at a brick kiln," he added.

    Another police official confirmed the incident. The victims were only identified by their first names, Shama and Shehzad, and were a married couple. 

    Blasphemy is a hugely sensitive issue in Pakistan with even unproven allegations often prompting mob violence.

    Anyone convicted, or even just accused, of insulting Islam, risks a violent and bloody death at the hands of vigilantes.

    A Christian woman has been on death row since November 2010, after she was found guilty of making derogatory remarks about the Prophet Mohammad during an argument with a Muslim woman.

    An elderly British man with severe mental illness, sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan in January, was shot by a prison guard last month.

    Global rights watchdog Amnesty International urged the Pakistani authorities to bring to justice those responsible for the latest killing.

    "This vicious mob killing is just the latest manifestation of the threat of vigilante violence which anyone can face in Pakistan after a blasphemy accusation - although religious minorities are disproportionately vulnerable," said David Griffiths, Amnesty International's deputy Asia Pacific director.

    "Those responsible must be brought to justice and the Pakistani authorities have to ensure at-risk communities are proactively given the protection they need."

    SOURCE: Agencies


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