Faisalabad: November 7, 2014. (PCP) The government must bring the perpetrators to justice to prevent persecution of religious minorities, and take comprehensive measures to end misuse of blasphemy laws to settle personal scores, and take concrete steps to stop provocation through loudspeakers and seizing the hate mongering literature for promotion of religious tolerance in Pakistan. These demands were made by the participants of a protest demonstration and sit-in held outside the Faisalabad Press Club on 6th November 2014 to condemn barbaric killing of a Christian couple who were burnt alive in a brick kiln at Kot Radha Kishan in Kasur, for allegedly desecrating pages of the Holy Quran.
Speaking on the occasion, Father Khalid Rasheed Asi said, “The state and government of Pakistan has failed to instill a culture of peace and justice, and protect the minority groups, as they are being targeted frequently in the name of religion through the exploitation of blasphemy laws by the fanatic groups for vested interests.”
The director programs of the AWAM, Naseem Anthony said, “The failure of the police to rescue the beleaguered couple represents the impotence of state’s writ despite having reached the crime scene. The individuals who instigated violence against the victims, and those who prevented their rescue must be brought to justice.”
The chairman of NMAP, Robin Daniel said, “The dispute involving Shahzad and his wife Shama with kiln owners aroused over wages and recovery of advance, they were beaten up and later burnt in the kiln. The blasphemy charges against the deceased couple are proven baseless.” “Democracy will remain a chimera and unstable unless the state manages to effectively protect the life and property of its citizens,” he added.
A former parliamentarian, George Clement said, “The government and the judiciary are under the control of religious groups, because they never take action against religious elements despite having known that they conspire a religious tension to disrupt the social harmony and public order.” “The government must wake up by bringing about reforms in the blasphemy laws to put an end to its misuse,” he added.
The director of the PHD Foundation, Suneel Malik said, “Burning a human being alive is insolence to humanity. The stoning of Christian couple and their unborn child to death with bricks, and reducing their bodies to ashes is a tragic, shameful, shocking and brutal act. The government must make genuine efforts to ensure that such kinds of merciless acts against minority groups are not repeated.”
A labor leader, Mian Abdul Qayyum said, “It is not a case of blasphemy, but a social matter. Some fanatic elements have conspired to kill Christian couple by giving a monetary dispute a religious color, and provoking religious sentiments of Muslims through misuse of loudspeakers and blasphemy laws against the couple.”
A political worker of the PTI, Rana Raheel said, “The government must purge curriculum from biases against minority groups through its revision for promotion of religious tolerance, as the existing syllabus create division between majority and minority groups.”
A political worker of the Awami Workers Party, Arif Ayaz said, “The existing system favors the powerful, and operates against the weaker groups. Therefore, the system based on injustice must be eliminated by enforcing rule of law in its true sense.”
A religious scholar, Najeeb Ali Shah said, “A committee should be constituted to evaluate content and implementation of blasphemy laws, and sincere efforts must be made to prevent its misuse, because abuse of such laws is injustice with the Holy Quran.”
A lawyer, Hashmat Barkat said, “Credible judicial probe of the blasphemy, violence and murder incident of Kasur should be made without any delay, and swift action must be taken against culprits.”
Pastor Irshad Parkash said, “The government must take practical measures to ensure the safety and security of the aggrieved family of the deceased. The state had a duty to safeguard life, liberty, properties, religious sites and graveyards of the religious minorities.”
The protest demonstration and sit-in was staged by the Association of Women for Awareness and Motivation (AWAM), REAT Human Rights Defenders Network, Peace and Human Development (PHD Foundation), National Minorities Alliance of Pakistan (NMAP), AAWAZ Program South Asia Partnership (SAP), Adara Samaji Behbood (ASB) and Peace for Nation International (PNI). The demonstrators were carrying banners and placards inscribed with slogans to condemn victimization of religious minorities and demand justice for the Christian couple. They chanted slogans which include; “Stop Terrorism & Extremism”, “Stop persecution of religious minorities”, “Stop misuse of blasphemy laws”, “Go system of injustice Go”.