A Christian couple in Pakistan have been killed after they were accused of insulting the Quran. According to local reports, they were beaten by an angry mob and then burned alive in the kiln where they worked.
The couple, Shahbaz Maseeh (26), and his wife Shama Bibi (24), were attacked in Kot Radha Kishan in Punjab province, 60km from the capital Lahore. The BBC reported that local police attempted to save the couple, but were outnumbered by the mob.
Shahbaz Sharif, Punjab Chief Minister, has ordered an investigation into the attack. He also urged local authorities to increase security for the Christian communities in the province.
An Open Doors contact has asked for prayer for Shama and Shehzad’s family and community: “Please keep praying for their families, the community and for God to bring his peace in the midst of this very difficult situation.”
Blasphemy is a sensitive issue in Pakistan, and laws against it were introduced in the 1980s. Asia Bibi is currently facing the death sentence for blasphemy in the the most recent high profile case of the blasphemy laws being enforced. These laws have been abused frequently, often to settle personal scores.
The blasphemy laws state that defiling, damaging, or desecrating the Quran can lead to life imprisonment. However, BBC correspondents say even being accused of blasphemy can make someone a target for radicals, and vigilantes often take punishment for such crimes into their own hands.
Source: BBC; International Business Times; NBC; Open Doors
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