FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Shahzad Masih, 28, and Shama Bibi, 25 and pregnant, were killed in Kasur, Pakistan
11/04/2014 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – A Christian husband and wife were beaten and then burned to death by a mob of angry Muslims at a brick kiln in Kasur, Pakistan. Incited by Islamic clerics who claimed the couple had committed blasphemy against Islam by burning pages of the Quran, the couple was taken hostage for three days before being violently killed early on Tuesday, November 4.
Mr. Shahzad Masih, 28 and Mrs. Shama Bibi, 25, used to work under the supervision of Mr. Muhammad Yousaf Gujjar, the owner of the factory, according to the facts collected by an ICC representative who visited Kot Radha Kishan in the Kasur district on Tuesday.
“On November 1st, the couple was locked up at the owner’s office. They were tortured for three days and then accused of desecrating the Quran,” Haneef Masih, 25, a local Christian, told ICC. “The clerics made announcements though the mosque’s amplifiers and instigated the Muslims to kill the blasphemers,” he continued.
The mob of more than 100 people, according to the BBC, came and violently took the couple from the room where they had been held. The mob stoned the Christian couple, tied them to a vehicle and dragged them to the brick kiln where they were burned alive, according to a local source.
While police did not take action to prevent the killings, they have reportedly detained 35 people for questioning regarding the incident, according to Breitbart. Mr. Shahbaz Sharif, Chief Minister of Punjab province has constituted a three-member committee to investigate the killings of the Christian couple.
Pastor Sardar Masih Gill confirmed that the couple had four children and that Shama was a few months pregnant with a fifth child. There were approximately 10 – 12 other Christian families working in the factory who have since left the area for security.
The exact details of what led to the couple being abducted originally remains unclear as various reports have indicated a dispute over money or employment prior to the couple being accused of desecrating the Quran and blaspheming Islam.
A senior human rights activist in Lahore condemned the incident, stating this is another case of the misuse of blasphemy laws. He urged the authorities to ensure the protection of the vulnerable segments, i.e. religious minorities, and demanded that the culprits should be arrested.
ICC 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.”