A Christian couple near Lahore in Pakistan has been beaten to death by a mob for allegedly desecrating the Quran, according to the Express Tribune.
A local police station official in Kot Radha Kishan, 40 miles from Lahore, said that the bodies of the couple, identified by their first names, Shama and Shehzad, were burnt in the brick kiln where they worked.
“Yesterday an incident of desecration of the Holy Quran took place in the area and today the mob first beat the couple and later set their bodies on fire at a brick kiln,” he said.
Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has constituted a three-member committee to fast-track the investigation of the killings and ordered police to increase security at Christian neighbourhoods in the province.
Brick kiln labourers are subjected to harsh working practices, with the Bonded Labour Liberation Front Pakistan estimating that 4.5 million are indentured labourers with no freedom of movement. They are paid as little as £1.30 a day and child labour is common: according to ActionAid, up to 1.7million children from the age of five are working in illegal brick factories for up to 14 hours a day.
Blasphemy is a sensitive issue in Pakistan, with allegations often prompting mob violence.
A Christian woman, Asia Bibi, has been on death row since November 2010 after she was found guilty of making derogatory remarks about the Prophet Mohammed during an argument with a Muslim woman. Politicians such as Salman Tasir and Shahbaz Bhatti who have attempted to stand up for minority rights have been assassinated.
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