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LAHORE: Various civil society groups and Christian organisations staged demonstrations outside the press club to protest the killing of a Christian couple accused of blasphemy in Kasur district.

The demonstrations were organised by the Centre for Human Rights Education, Civil Society Network, Masiha Millat Party, Voice of Christians International and others.

The protesters expressed anger and grief at the incident and chanted slogans against killings in the name of religion. They demanded all culprits involved in this inhumane act should be apprehend and brought to justice.

Speaking to protesters, Abdullah Malik said the incident raised a sense of insecurity among the religious minorities and demanded the superior judiciary take suo motu notice of it to ensure that the perpetrators were punished according to law.

Samson Salamat said: “This is yet another painful story where human lives have been degraded in the name of religion.”

He said the misuse of blasphemy laws had been continuously highlighted in dozens of cases, but successive governments, politicians and state institutions could not formulate any policy to control the damage and save the lives of the people, especially those belonging to religious minorities.

Aslam Sahutra regretted that the chief minister neither visited the site nor announced any financial assistance for the four children of the couple orphaned in the incident.

Samuel Payara announced observing a black day on Nov 9 and staging a rally against the killing from the press club up to the Punjab Assembly building. The rally would turn into a sit-in outside the Assembly Hall, he said.

Bushra Khaliq of the Anti-Torture Alliance demanded that all culprits should be arrested immediately and the blasphemy laws be repealed to stop the persecution of minorities and other marginalised groups.

PTI: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Punjab minority wing on Wednesday staged a protest demonstration in front of the Lahore Press Club against the lynching of a Christian couple and burning their bodies at a brick kiln.

The PTI workers and supporters chanted slogans against the government and demanded it should apprehend the culprits at the earliest and bring them to book.

The protesters were carrying banners and placards condemning the brutal killing of the couple accused of desecration of the Holy Quran.

Speaking to the protesters, PTI Punjab minority wing president and MPA Shunila Rooth said the party strongly condemned the incident and demanded the government should arrest the killers and give financial assistance to the bereaved family.

She said the government should also permanently support the victims’ children. She said the PTI was standing with the Christian community.

Meanwhile, PTI Punjab president Ejaz Chaudhry, general secretary Dr Yasmin Rashid and information secretary Andleeb Abbas also condemned the barbaric incident.

CICF: The Cecil and Iris Chaudhry Foundation (CICF) has condemned the brutal killing of a Christian couple who were burnt to death in a furnace of a brick kiln in Kot Radha Kishan in Pattoki tehsil by an angry mob over an alleged blasphemy accusation.

CICF President Ms Michelle Chaudhry, expressing anger and concern over the incident, stated “I’m lost for words as I struggle to condemn this horrific incident.

The brutal killing and burning to death of Christian couple Shehzad and Shama working as bonded labor at a brick kiln is a grim reminder that intolerance in the name of religion in Pakistan has escalated beyond the rule of law. This is the umpteenth time that crowds have been provoked on religious sentiments to settle personal scores and dispense mob justice”.

Ms Chaudhry added: “The situation has now reached beyond the application of laws for justice to where crowds and police are repeatedly setting precedents for street justice; which violates the Constitution and the Penal Code of Pakistan.

This attitude reflects lack of governance, failure of the civil administration to impose a writ and loopholes in the judicial system that invariably allows such crimes against humanity to go unpunished”.

“Unfortunately in Pakistan when it comes to blasphemy accusations anyone is free to act as a prosecutor, judge and executor. We cannot allow this to go on; impunity around violence against religious minorities in Pakistan has to end,” the CICF president stated.

The CICF demands of the Punjab chief minister to ensure that the inquiry ordered by him is impartial and brings all law breakers to book.

“Accountability is pivotal in order to prevent such violence in the future,” Ms Chaudhry said.

Published in Dawn, November 6th, 2014