Pakistani Court Orders Arrest of Muslim Clerics After Mob Kills Couple Accused of Blasphemy

PakistanISLAMABAD, Pakistan — The Supreme Court of Pakistan has ordered the arrest of two Muslim clerics for inciting a mob who killed a couple last month after being falsely accused of desecrating the Koran. Five police officials who failed to protect the couple have also been required to face disciplinary action.

As previously reported, Shama Bibi, 28, and Shahzad Masih, 32, were burnt to ashes after they were encircled by the mob who had been informed over mosque loudspeakers that the couple had been found guilty of blasphemy against Islam.

According to reports, following the recent death of her father-in-law, Bibi burned the trinkets that he had used to practice black magic. But when others saw discovered what she had done, they rather accused her of burning the Koran.

“Shama burned the amulets and some other related material, assuming that this was the best way to get rid of ‘evil stuff,’” an unidentified family member told Morningstar News. “She later threw the ashes on a garbage heap outside their quarters when Muhammad Irfan, a Muslim co-worker, noticed some half-burnt pieces of paper from the amulets and raised a clamor, claiming that Shahzad’s family had desecrated Quranic pages.”

Bibi and her husband worked for a brick factory owner near the village of Kot Radha Kisha and had three young children. Unconfirmed reports state that Bibi was also several months pregnant.

When area Muslims heard the call from the local mullah that the couple had been declared guilty of blasphemy against Islam, a crime resulting in life imprisonment or death, hundreds rushed their workplace and broke down the door. Bibi and Masih were then dragged outside and beaten “using fists, kicks and batons at will.” Some reports state that the mob chanted “Allahu Akbar” as they took vengeance on the couple—a popular phrase among Muslims, meaning “Allah is great.”

While Bibi is believed to have died from the beating, her husband remained alive through the incident. However, the mob then grabbed both Bibi and Masih and threw their bodies into the fiery kiln used for making bricks, burning Masih to death and incinerating him and his wife to powder.

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“According to the police, they were unable to recover the bodies of the persecuted couple except their ashes,” one Pakistani man stated.

On Tuesday, the three-judge panel of the Pakistan Supreme Court directed the Punjab Police Department to discipline five police officers who were on the scene but failed to protect the couple from the mob.

“Why they did not make an attempt to secure the couple as they could disperse the mob through aerial firing?” Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk asked. “It is because of the police’s negligence that the tragic incident occurred.”

The court also ordered the police to arrest Maulvi Noorul Hassan and Maulvi Arshad Baloch, two Muslim clerics who incited the mob to take action in the first place by announcing over a loudspeaker that the couple was guilty of blasphemy. Maulvi Mohammad Hussain, a third cleric who was also involved in the announcements, has already been taken into custody.

According to the Express Tribune, an attorney for the kiln owners told the court that “they (the owners) had informed the local police one day ago that some clerics are inciting people, but no security measures were taken in this regard.”

The case has been adjourned until January 15th, when further reports and testimony are required to be submitted to the court. Over 100 people have been charged surrounding the death of the couple.

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