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Call to punish killers of Christians

Our Correspondent

LAHORE

Islamic scholars and leaders on Friday continued their condemnation of the killing of a Christian couple in Kot Radha Kishen and expressed deep sorrow and sympathies with the bereaved family.

International Council for Peace and Harmony Pakistan (ICPH) chairman and Badshahi Masjid Lahore Chief Khateeb Maulana Abdul Khabeer Azad strongly condemned the incident describing it against the teachings of Islam.

Maulana Azad visited the bereaved family along with an IPCH delegation, also including Christian leaders, and stressed that Islam strictly prohibited the murder of innocent individuals.

He said if someone was accused of any blasphemy they should be convicted and punished by a competent court only.

Those accompanying him included Father James Channan, Father Shahid Mehraj, Fr Akram Gill, Maulana Muhammad Khan Leghari, Mufti Abdul Moeed Asad, Kazim Raza Naqvi, Maulana Habib-ur-Rehman Akhtar, Mufti Saifullah Khalid and Hafiz Abdul Qadir.

Maulana Azad praised the Punjab government for constituting an inquiry committee and compensating the bereaved family for their irreparable loss. He demanded early and exemplary punishment for the culprits.

Meanwhile, leaders of World Council of Religions (WCR) termed the incident one of the saddest and said as Muslims they could say that Allah and His Prophet (PBUH) were with the victims of the brutality.

In a statement, the WCR leaders, Maulana Hanif Jallundhari, Bishop Samuel Azariah, Qari Roohullah Madani, Maulana Yaseen Zafar, Bishop Mano, Maulana Abdul Maalik, Qazi Niaz Naqvi, Bishop Joseph Quotes and Hafiz Nauman Hamid cited that the Prophet (PBUH) had said “if a non-Muslim was victimized in an Islamic State, I will take up his/her case in hereafter.”

They demanded urgent an action and punishment to the culprits, as stressed the need of eliminating the misuse of blasphemy law in Pakistan.

Death penalty: The Aurat Foundation has strongly condemned the killing of a Christian couple by a mob in Kot Radha Kishan and demanded justice for the victims – Shahzad Masih and Shama Bibi. It has said that this heinous crime should be prosecuted and those involved should be awarded death penalty.

In a meeting held at its regional office on Friday, the representatives of the women rights organisation expressed sorrow and grief over the shocking incident with the family of the couple, who were killed by a mob after accusing them of desecration of the Holy Quran.

The Aurat Foundation and civil society members strongly condemned the killing in the name of faith and said such incidents had increased security concerns among minorities in Pakistan. “Citizens of Pakistan are extremely shocked by the barbaric act and would not rest till the justice is done to the aggrieved family,” the participants said.

It was noted there was no witness who could testify that disrespectful act against the Holy Quran had taken place. It was a conflict over debt between the deceased couple and the brick kiln owner, which actually led to the barbaric act, they said.

Shahzad and Shama were brutally tortured and killed and later an attempt was made to cover it up by spreading the false news of blasphemy, they said. The meeting also questioned the performance of police, which noted that appropriate action had been not taken as the incident was caused by violent messages transmitted through loudspeakers.

It was further noted that police had reached the scene upon hearing the cries for the couple but turned away and made no attempt to rescue them from the mob.

The civil society activists noted “it is very unfortunate that the Christians are unable to exercise their rights as guaranteed under the Constitution.”

“The Punjab government should take notice of this incident and hold perpetrators accountable. Laws should be amended by legislative bodies in the country to avoid such horrific incidents. Laws should also be made to protect religious minorities from hate speech and propaganda literature that are a part of larger waves of sectarian violence and intolerance in society.”

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