Christians hail Supreme Court’s suo motu notice over Christian couple’s brutal death
Director of CLAAS-UK Nasir Saeed has welcomed Pakistan Supreme Court’s suo motu notice over the killing of Christian couple Shama and Shahzad. They were beaten by a Muslim mob and then thrown into a brick kiln furnace after being accused of desecrating the Holy Quran.
The HRCP has already stated in its report that “It appears that the murdered man, Shehzad, had a dispute over wages, or recovery of advance that the kiln owner had extended to two families of Muslim labourers who had escaped. The kiln owners had asked Shehzad to repay the amount extended to the escaped families because he had introduced them to the owners.”
Unfortunately bonded labor in Pakistan is a form of modern day slavery and the majority of these bonded laborers are Christians. These debts run through generations and continue growing, and thus these families are never able to come out of this slavery, said Nasir Saeed.
According to CLAAS’ own report the couple hadn’t committed blasphemy but it was a financial dispute and Shahzad was being forced to repay the money to the kiln owner, and was even prevented from attending the recent funeral of his father. It is said that the Christian couple was severely beaten and then burnt to death, and to cover the murder a fake story was crafted by the kiln owner stating they had desecrated the Holy Quran and the local religious leaders were approached so they could announce from the mosque’s loudspeakers that the Christian couple had committed blasphemy.
After this announcement around 1500 people gathered around to punish the Christian couple for unconfirmed accusations of blasphemy. It is sad that no one opposed their brutal killings because they were Christians. Mr. Saeed said it shows how deeply hatred against Christians has permeated Pakistan’s Muslim society. Sadly growing hatred against Christians is very dangerous and if this continues, Christians who already living under constant fear for their lives have no future in Pakistan, while many have already fled the country.
We cannot avoid future such incidents unless the government takes stringent measures to stop the growing hatred and punish those who have been involved in such crimes, But unfortunately he government always been hesitant to take action and bring those responsible for church attacks, the burning of Christian towns and villages, and the killing and burning of Christians alive, to justice.
Therefore Christians have lost hope for justice from the present government, but after the suo motu notice by Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk, their hopes for justice for Shama, Shahzad and their unborn child have been raised. Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk has also directed the Punjab government to present a report within three days over the killing of the couple.
On November 7, the Supreme Court had sent a reminder to the government, reminding it to constitute a national council for minorities’ rights, which was ordered by the ex-chief justice Tassaduq Hussain Jilani but remains outstanding.
Mr Saeed said blasphemy has become a very sensitive issue because of the governments’ inaction and silence. Often unproven allegations prompt mob violence, and Christians consider themselves the main target and root cause of their persecution.
Therefore there is a high demand for the abolishment of the blasphemy law or at least for appropriate changes to be made. Mr Saeed has welcomed the Supreme Court’s sue motu notice and said it is very important to set an example and punish those who have been involved in the killing of Shama and Shahzad.