Shocking murder of a married couple who were burned alive
This has all happened at a time when the country is still living in a state of shock because of the murder of the Christian couple Shahjad Masih and Shama Bibi who were burned alive on the 4th of November by an angry mob of hundreds of Muslims who accused them of desecrating the Quran.
In light of the extreme barbarism by which this tragedy is characterized, the media in the country are throwing their support exclusively behind the Islamic community; which happens to be the largest religious group in Pakistan. Yet, the community’s leader, Siraj al-Haqq did meet with the families of the two victims on November 10th in order to offer his condolences. The government was urged to “take decisive measures against the perpetrators of this terrible crime.” Since these crimes occurred on the 4th of November protests have erupted in several of the country’s largest cities, demanding that “authorities learn from this tragedy in order to prevent it from happening again.”
In Faisalabad more than a thousand human rights activists, a variety of religious leaders, Christians, Muslims, monks and students gathered for a candlelight vigil commemorating the slain couple. This all took place in front of local government buildings on Thursday, November 13th. This march, which was organized by the National Minorities Alliance of Pakistan (NMAP), the Joshua Welfare Organization (JWO) and the Muslims and Christians Union, was concluded with an interfaith prayer in honor of Shama and Shahzad.
Eradication of minorities
At the end of the demonstration Lala Robin Daniel, an NMAP leader stated that, “the Christians that were murdered in the name of religion under the pretext of anti-blasphemy laws amounts to the eradication of minorities.” A government official over minority rights demanded that “immediate measures” be taken regarding the violations being committed in the name of the anti-blasphemy laws, and that harsher punishments be given to those who would use those laws for revenge or to settle personal scores. Father Suhail Kanwal supported this announcement by saying, “the arbitrary use of anti-blasphemy laws is an act of blasphemy in and of itself and deserves the same punishment.” Furthermore, he recommended that authorities create a committee entrusted with investigating blasphemy cases that “are still pending before the courts,” such as the much publicized case involving Asia Bibi. Finally, the Muslim leader Yunus Abar mentioned the importance of immediate reforms for worker’s rights; especially in the labs and brick factories where minority workers are often the victims of violations and harassment.
In Lahore, thousands of demonstrators (students, activists from the Human Friends Organization and the International Stefanos Union) rallied on Saturday the 15th of November in front of the Press Club. During the demonstration they chanted, “Justice must be served,” and “Stop the massacre of minorities.” Furthermore, they demanded that the “death penalty be given to those who murdered Shahzad and Shama.” During this demonstration, which was followed by a candlelight vigil to commemorate the Christian couple who had been murdered, a picture of the brick factory’s owner, Yusuf Ghawjar was burned as an act of condemnation for the “guilty who have been allowed to avoid punishment.”
During the day on the 17th of November, hearings were started in order to arraign those who had been accused of being the ringleaders in the mass murder of Christians. Among those who had been arrested there were fifty who had been detained since the tragedy occurred. A counter-terrorism court was convened to hear the cases of four who were the owners of the brick factory and afterwards the judge remanded them to prison where they will be held until the next scheduled hearing on the 19th of November.”
This articleis from Aleteia’s Arabic edition and was translated by Donald Puhlman.