Muslim mob burns Christian couple to death

A Christian husband and wife have been burned alive by a Muslim mob in the Punjab after they were accused of blasphemy, Pakistani newspapers have reported. However, an investigation by the Church of Pakistan into the murder of Shezad and Shama Masih concluded the motivation for the murder was an unpaid debt the couple owed to their employer — who used a false accusation of blasphemy to punish them. Initial press reports stated that Shama Masih (24) was accused by her supervisor at the brick kiln where she worked of burning pages of the Koran outside of her home. Masih and her husband Shezad Masih (26) were seized by a mob on 4 Nov 2014, beaten and then tossed into the brick kiln where they were burned alive. A statement from the Diocese of Raiwind denounced the police for not being able to stop the killing even though five officers were present throughout the ordeal. Forty-four people including the owner of the kiln have been arrested, local newspapers report. Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has set up a three-member committee to fast track the investigation into the killings and ordered police to beef up security in Christian neighborhoods in the province, according to an official from his media office. The moderator of the Church of Pakistan, Bishop Samuel Azariah, denounced the murders and also chided the press for not reporting on the constant misuse of the country’s blasphemy laws to persecute Christians and other religious minorities.

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