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No justice for Pakistani Christians burned alive in kiln

They were burned alive with hundreds of witnesses. Four years later, after two court cases, there is no justice for a young Pakistani couple.

A Pakistani court has now acquitted 20 people who were charged with torturing and burning alive the Christians in a brick kiln.

Shahzad Masih, 26, and his 24-year-old, five months-pregnant wife, Shama Bibi, from the village of Kot Radhakishan in the Punjab province, were falsely accused by local Muslims of tearing pages out of a Quran. Hours later hundreds of enraged Muslims gathered and burned them alive on Nov. 4, 2014.

Shama and Shahzad’s orphaned children

Their murders left their three young children, Suleman, Sonia and Poonam without their parents.

RadioFreeEurope quotes the prosecutor, Abdur Rauf, as saying that the court on Saturday acquitted 20 suspects.

In November 2016, an anti-terrorism court had sentenced five men to death and 10 others were given varying jail terms for playing a supportive role in the killings. Later, the court acquitted 93 other suspects in the case the same year.

Christian and other minorities in Pakistan routinely face blasphemy charges followed by “religious” lynching.

Pakistan has a notorious blasphemy law, embedded in Sections 295 and 298 of the Pakistan Penal Code, which provide for penalties ranging from a fine to death. The law is often misused to target religious minorities, including Christians, Shi’as, Ahmadiyyas and Hindus. Adding to the horrible laws is the fact there is no provision to punish a false accuser or a false witness of blasphemy. It has been found that the law is used by some Muslims to falsely accuse members of minority communities to settle personal scores.

Yousaf Gujjar, the owner of the brick kiln is believed to have made the false blasphemy allegations because the couple owed him money that they could not pay. However, he was granted bail based on the claim that he was not at the brick kiln the day that the couple was burned.