Christian Couple Beaten and Burned In Pakistan For Blasphemy

220px-Lewes_Bonfire,_discarded_torchWe have previously discussed the scourge of blasphemy laws, particularly in Muslim nations, used to punish and even execute people with differing views of religion. We have a deeply disturbing new case outside of Lahore, Pakistan where a Christian couple was accused of desecrating the Koran (Quran), beaten by a mob, and then burnt in a brick kiln where they worked. The couple, known only as Shama and Shehzad, were killed at the behest of a local Muslim mullah in Kot Radha Kishan, some 60 kilometres from Lahore.

One promising aspect to this story is that the police have actually made 44 arrests and identified some 468 others who might be involved. The government has called for prosecutions and a committee has been set up.

However, the greatest step would be for Pakistan to eliminate all blasphemy laws from its own books. It is not just the murders but the underlying allegation that is offensive. By allowing people to be arrested for blasphemy, the government reinforces the view that people should be punished for religious views and expressions. This point was made by Louis Brandeis:

Decency, security, and liberty alike demand that government officials shall be subjected to the same rules of conduct that are commands to the citizen. In a government of laws, existence of the government will be imperiled if it fails to observe the law scrupulously. Our government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy. To declare that in the administration of the criminal law the end justifies the means — to declare that the government may commit crimes in order to secure the conviction of a private criminal — would bring terrible retribution. Against that pernicious doctrine this court should resolutely set its face.
Dissenting, Olmstead v. United States, 277 U.S. 438 (1928).

I am relieved to read of the arrested but Pakistan has to make a choice in whether to join the modern world and stand with free speech and free exercise against blasphemy and apostasy laws. For many years, I have been writing about the threat of an international blasphemy standard and the continuing rollback on free speech in the West. For recent columns, click here and here and here.

Much of this writing has focused on the effort of the Obama Administration to reach an accommodation with allies like Egypt and Pakistan to develop a standard for criminalizing anti-religious speech.  We have been following the rise of anti-blasphemy laws around the world, including the increase in prosecutions in the West and the support of the Obama Administration for the prosecution of some anti-religious speech under the controversial Brandenburg standard.

These cases reflect the true purpose of blasphemy laws: to silence minority sects and religious critics in the name of a “true faith.” Fortunately the effort of Hillary Clinton and others in the Administration to reach a compromise on blasphemy failed, though there continue to be efforts to create an international standard.

Recently, we discussed a Christian pastor accused of blasphemy who was shot and killed in a Pakistani jail by a guard.

58 thoughts on “Christian Couple Beaten and Burned In Pakistan For Blasphemy”

  1. Murder of Christian couple in Pakistan

    The report of murder of Christian couple, labor at brick kiln, by unruly crowd has been circulated worldwide through national and international print and electronic media. The incident is said to be a result of blasphemous act that the couple had committed.

    It is grumbled that the blasphemous act, in many cases, is misused by powerful and influential persons when they want to settle their account with their foes who happen to be weak and feebly settled in society.

    The affected rather ruined family is grateful to those who shared with them their irreparable loss through words of sympathy. The message becomes more comforting, solicitous and consoling when we see it coming from a distinguished people including Ex-president Zardari, MQM chief Altaf Hussain, Chief of Islamic Counsil Moulana Tahir Ashrafi, MNAS, MPAS and many other renowned Islamic scholars.

    Thankfully, in such a disastrous situation, we have a sensitive and responsible government. Chief Minister, Shahbaz Shrif, reputed for his alertness towards the administration, went into spontaneous action. He has established a high powered inquiring squad, has granted prodigious amount of money for the distressed folks.

    Such timely, caring and generous attitude will not sooth the wounds of wounded only but also win applause and admiration from all quarters, in particular from the minorities.

    Prime Minister, Mr Nawaz Shrif, is equally watchful of the incident taking keen interest. Many anxiously waiting for the outcome of the inquiry wishing the result to be full of retribution for the criminals.

    Mushtaq Dean

  2. So guess we should just continue to reinforce barbarians’ behavior by doing nothing , and in fact , enabling Islamists by having presidents who defend islamic religion for the Muslims , or minimize the problem by saying that France and Germany can jail for denying holocaust , like there is something comparable to what is going on in the name of Islam in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan . I’m so fed up with the bigotry of low expectations, as that is getting people decapitated and others baked In ovens while our leaders intellectualize Islam away .

  3. Our relations with Pakistan are a delicate balancing act. As you know, they border India, both have nuclear weapons and they frequently shoot each other at their borders.

    No simple answers here, friends.

  4. Po, how long one can be jailed for denying holocaust in Germany ?

    Sister Mary , exactly , the boycott resulted in the end of the racist govt.

    Slo, the civilized world can start with boycott of the countries that are openly barbaric in their legal system, and not to defend their religion by saying that its a religion of peace when it advocates murder of people who leave this peaceful religion .

  5. R2D2, once again, what are we to do about that? If the Pakistanis decide they don’t like it, it’s up to them to do something about it.

  6. R2D2 asked

    Can you give an example when the world boycotted a country for having barbaric laws , like the blasphemy law in Pakistan

    Response: Apartheid in South Africa comes close.

  7. R2D2, every country has some form of blasphemy law, if not directed to a God, then directed to some other entity. Every country has a sacred cow, the poking of which raises pitchfork. Perhaps not fully the US, but France and Germany fine and jail people for denying the Holocaust.

    1. po – denying the Holocaust is not quite the same as blasphemy. Would you like to say what the blasphemy law of the US is?

  8. Slohrss29, Can you give an example when the world boycotted a country for having barbaric laws , like the blasphemy law in Pakistan ?

  9. slohrss29

    I beg to differ from you, Unfortunately, we do have mobs today, they are called by a diff name though and instead of lynchings, they get even by breaking in businesses, stealing all the loot they can get and/ or destroying anything in their path, closing down businesses or causing thousands of damage. Usually they are called protesters who will not obey the law and who also attack anyone who gets in their path. Does the latest in Missouri come to mind? Truly mob rule there, backed by Washington.

  10. R2D2, hate to tell you… been down that road and it don’t work either… Once again, you assume people see everything just like you do. Big mistake.

    Good thing we never have mobs or lynches here… ?????

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