(Voice of the Persecuted) On Tuesday, 4 Nov. 2014, the news was very dark for Pakistan. Pakistani Christians are in grave danger, and today their hearts are breaking.
In the town of Kasur (Chak 59 village near Kot Radha Kishan) province of Punjab, Shahzad Masih(28) and his pregnant wife Shama(25) were brutally tortured, thrown into a brick kiln furnace and burned to death in an act of sheer barbarism by a vicious mob. The couple had three children, Shama was expecting their fourth child.
Their crime? Allegedly desecrating a copy of the Koran.
The couple worked in ‘bonded labor’ for Yousaf Gujjar at his brick kiln for the last 3-4 years and lived in quarters on the premises.
It’s reported that while cleaning their quarters, Shama came across some amulets from her deceased father-in-law who she said had practiced ‘black magic’. She burnt the amulets and threw them on a garbage heap. A Muslim co-worker noticed the burnt pieces of paper from the amulets and accused her of burning pages from the holy Quran.
The accusation spread quickly through Mosque loud speakers inciting the local Muslims rage. As tensions grew, their employer feared the couple would flee the area to save themselves from violence. There was a dispute over money owed to him from an apparent advance. Advancing cash to employees is illegal but a common practice in Pakistan. This detrimental practice forces them into bonded labor, which may take many years to pay back due to extremely high interest rates of these loans. They end up as virtual slaves of their employers in modern day slavery.
According to reports, he had the couple locked up in a room for a few days prior to the horrific attack. Unable to escape, they were drug from this room by the enraged mob that was led by a local cleric claiming they had desecrated the Koran.
Sharia law dictates this as blasphemy and carries a brutal death sentence. But this sentence was carried out without a trial, without mercy and without judges. The mob became judge, jury and executioner, while the couple screamed for mercy and denied all charges. It is said that they broke their legs so they could not run, brutally beat them, then threw them into the furnace fire. (More)
It appears that the police sided with the murderers. President Sharif has ordered a committee to investigate, but there are those who called for the UN to intervene.
Lahore (Agenzia Fides) – “We are shocked and worried. Christians in Pakistan are now wondering: what country do we live in? The horrible and barbaric execution of a Christian couple, accused of blasphemy, is an act that offends justice, human rights, human dignity, civilization, and is contrary to the rule of law. Today we will demonstrate for justice and human rights in Lahore. On the blasphemy law, we call for the UN to intervene”: this is what Fr. James Channan OP, a Dominican, Director of the “Peace Center” in Lahore, research center engaged in inter-religious dialogue said in an interview with Agenzia Fides, commenting on the murder of the Christian couple, burned alive in the district of Kasur in Punjab (see Fides 04/11/2014).
“I am convinced that the married couple did not commit blasphemy. And even if the accusation were verified, there are procedures to be followed. We cannot allow lynching or a mass execution to be carried out by those who believe they are above the law. This is a strong request to the government”, notes Fr. Channan. In fact, “for incidents of violence which occurred in the past (in Gojra, in Shantinagar and other places) none of the guilty were punished. Impunity fuels violence. We ask the Special Commission created by the Government of Punjab to submit a report immediately and to punish those involved in this barbaric act”, adds the priest.
Yesterday, to express their outrage and to demand justice and respect for the law, many Christian organizations and civil society groups that defend human rights, along with Muslim citizens, will gather in the street in Lahore. The Dominican concludes: “We will ask the UN to intervene. Careful and neutral analysis is needed with regards to the blasphemy law, its exploitation and its consequences. We call for a special UN commission to come to Pakistan. If this law is not stopped and corrected, there will be more accidents and tragedies like this”.
Recently, the area has seen numerous incidents of violence that have taken place between Christians and Muslims.
Those who have fled this horrendous law and torture are crying, heartbroken and shocked. A persecuted Pakistani Christian who was forced to take refuge in another country told Voice of the Persecuted, “I am crying, I want to go back and help, but I will be a target and killed.”
These precious brethren have been targeted for blasphemy. Most of the time under false claims. A law that can not even be called barbaric or medieval. How can this be? How can this happen in our modern day? How can this happen in a world that prides itself on freedom for all? How can this country continue to receive billions of dollars in aide from freedom loving Western nations? Why are they not held accountable for the human rights abuses and atrocities? Enough is enough!
Three children have needlessly become orphans. Not only have they lost their parents, but their sibling. How do we explain this senseless act to them? How can we prevent the same violence from happening to them, or others in the future?
PAKISTANI CHRISTIANS NEED YOUR PRAYERS! And pressure must be put on Pakistan to protect all of it’s citizens, regardless of stature, ethnicity, or religion.
Voice of the Persecuted strongly condemns this shocking and tragic event.
We call on the Pakistani Government to bring each and every individual responsible for this deplorable act of violence to immediate justice.
We implore Islamic clerics who too often are found inciting such mob violence to publicly denounce these reprehensible attacks. And that the Pakistan government hold them accountable as accomplices when instigating these criminal acts of the violence now and in the future.
We ask that the nation of Pakistan develop programs to educate against prejudices and intolerance of Christians and other religious minorities. And to continue in advancing a Pakistan where all citizens may live in peace without fear.
To establish mandatory education of ALL Pakistani children (boys and girls). Illiteracy forces a large number of minorities into bonded labor making them easy targets for a life of discrimination, unspeakable abuses and death. Free them from this illegal practice! Many great minds have come from Pakistan. Please give all children the opportunity to make successful contributions to your society, to further enhance your country in the future.
We ask that the blasphemy law to be immediately repealed, which is continually misused to settle personal scores in which minorities are unfairly targeted.
We ask the international community to hold the government of Pakistan accountable, pressuring them to take and enforce firm action to deter and completely eliminate these types of attacks in the future.
To all nations, we ask that future aid and other relations with Pakistan be curtailed in the light of Pakistan’s steadfast refusal to grant Christians and other religious minorities basic human rights. Pakistan ought not receive any but the most urgent humanitarian aid until these totalitarian laws are repealed. And until true and lasting efforts are made by the government for real change in Pakistan.
We also call for the UN to immediately act and intervene.
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Recommended: Read a Persecuted Christian’s message to the West for a true account of the reality of life for Christians in Pakistan HERE.
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