On November 25th, a court in Lahore handed the death sentence to five people who were responsible for the torturing and killing of an impoverished young Christian couple in 2014 over allegations of burning the Quran. Eight others involved in the attack were sentenced to two years in prison.
After militant Muslim leaders incited violence via mosque loudspeakers, a frenzied mob consisting of hundreds of villagers were caught up in the assaults, during which time, Shahzad Masih, 26, and his wife, Shama, 24, were thrown into a burning brick kiln. At the time of her death, Shama was five months pregnant. A previous report on this case is available at this page.
Although more than 50 people had initially been charged in the deaths of the young couple, most of them were acquitted after family members recorded statements denying the presence of the accused at the scene. Sources also believe that the state later lost interest in the case, allowing several of those directly involved in the attack to walk away free by manipulating gaps in the Pakistani legal system.
Even still, the incident has caused an outrage in both national and international media -- civil society in general -- prompting the Pakistani government to take the unprecedented step of becoming the complainant in the case. "The conviction of five people by the court is no small feat," states the attorney who represented the victims' family. "I hope this verdict would be seen as a stern warning against any such violence against minorities in the future." For more cases relating to Pakistan's notorious blasphemy laws, visit the Pakistan Country Report.
While thankful that God has used the public outcry of people around the world to bring attention to the plight of minorities suffering under Pakistan's blasphemy laws, we are mindful of our need to intercede for the perpetrators. May the Lord not only touch the hearts of those convicted in this case with His love and mercy but also the many others who participated in the mob violence, bringing each of them to repentance and salvation (John 3:16). Pray that His comfort, provision and blessing be upon the couple's four orphaned children, so they will grow strong in both physical stature and character, and encouraged to embrace the faith of their beloved parents.