Christian couple burned alive: the Supreme Court intervenes

Islamabad (Agenzia Fides) - The Supreme Court of Pakistan has asked the government to urgently submit a report on the investigation regarding the brutal killing which took place on 4 November in Kasur district, where the Christian couple Shahzad Masih and Shama Bibi were lynched and burned to death on charges of blasphemy, for the alleged desecration of pages of the Koran.

The Court also asked the executive to give an account on the steps taken to comply with the order issued in June 2014, when the supreme organ of judgment had ordered the federal government to establish the "National Council for the rights of minorities" and to form a special "task force" to protect the places of worship of religious minorities.

The step was welcomed by the Christian community and civil society, in the name of defending the rule of law. Interviewed by Fides, Fr. James Channan OP, Director of the "Peace Center" in Lahore, said: "We are delighted about this decision taken. It seems a positive result of our joint struggle: the application for intervention to the Supreme Court had been forwarded by Christian and Muslim religious leaders, representatives of organizations such as Peace Center, URI, Minjahul Quran, Pakistan Ulama Council, committed to justice, peace, religious harmony. We hope concrete steps to return a sense of security to all citizens, especially Christians and other persecuted minorities in Pakistan will come soon".

Meanwhile, as Fides learns from local sources, the family of the couple killed are suffering pressures and threats so they abandon the path of the criminal process. Even the Christians of surrounding villages are under threat. A Christian from the village of Bhail said that the tension in the area is strong and great hostility of Muslims towards Christians has developed after the raid and arrests carried out by the police in Muslim houses.

The Christian lawyer Mushtaq Gill told Fides: "There is a widespread mentality among the faithful Muslims who consider Christians 'infidels', and deserve any type of abuse. In a country where 97% are Muslims, Christians are victims of threats and attacks, and live under a pall of discrimination and hatred".