Two killed in another blasphemy-linked tragedy

Shahzad Masih and Shama Bibi - composite picture from Morning Star News
Shahzad Masih and Shama Bibi – composite picture from Morning Star News

The Independent reports that police have said a Christian couple were beaten to death in Pakistan by a mob for allegedly desecrating the Koran.

They were killed by a mob in the town of Kot Radha Kishan, in eastern Punjab province, and their bodies were burned at a brick kiln where they both worked.

The couple were named as Shahbaz Masih, 26, and his wife Shama Bibi, 24, by NBC News, who said up to 35 people are believed to have taken part in the attack.

A security official told the BBC local police attempted to save the pair, but were outnumbered by the angry mob. Shahbaz Sharif, the top elected official in the province, has ordered a probe into the incident.

A longer report from Pakistan states that the woman, already a mother of 4, was pregnant, and the man was still alive when thrown into the kiln. It also indicated that local mosques incited a crowd of 3 – 4,000 to attack the brick kiln in search of the couple.

Today Morning Star News reported that 53 suspects had been named, along with hundreds of “unidentified people.” 44 had been arrested,

It also reported that Prime Minister Sharif had said the murderers will be brought to justice. “The brutal murder of the Christian couple in Kot Radha Krishan is an unacceptable crime,” the premier stated. “A responsible state cannot tolerate mob rule and public lynching with impunity.”

Sharif directed Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to show no mercy and allow the law to take its course to punish those responsible. “The Pakistani state has to act proactively to protect its minorities from violence and injustice,” the prime minister said. “We must promote religious and ethnic diversity in our society as a virtue.”