Relaymedia

Pakistan: Muslim Mob Kills, Burns Christian Couple for 'Desecrating' Koran

( [email protected] ) Nov 04, 2014 02:46 PM EST

Pakistani Christians
Previous attacks on minority communities over blasphemy allegations have led to protests

A Muslim mob in Pakistan beat a Christian couple to death and threw their bodies into a brick kiln for allegedly desecrating the Koran as religious persecution escalates in the region.

According to the Associated Press, the horrific incident took place at the town of Kot Radha Kishan, some 40 miles southwest of the city of Lahore in Pakistan.

'A mob attacked a Christian couple after accusing them of desecration of the holy Koran and later burnt their bodies at a brick kiln where they worked," stated police.

'Yesterday an incident of desecration of the holy Koran 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 added.

The victims were identified only by their first names, Shama and Shehzad, and were a married couple, reports the AP.

Under Pakistan's harsh blasphemy laws, anyone accused of insulting Islam or the Prophet Muhammad risks a violent and bloody death at the hands of vigilantes.

However, Human Rights Watch's Phelim Kine said the laws often target religious minorities and are "all too often manipulated to seek personal disputes."

According to BBC News, "scores" of Christians  have been found guilty of desecrating the Koran or of blasphemy since 1990.

In May, gunmen in the city of Multan shot dead a Christian lawyer, Rashid Rehma, who had been defending a university lecturer accused of blasphemy. 

Last month, a Pakistani court upheld the death penalty for Asia Bibi, a Christian woman convicted of blasphemy in 2010  after she was found guilty of making derogatory remarks about the Prophet Mohammed during an argument with a Muslim woman.

At the time, Human Rights Watch described the court's decision as a "disgrace to Pakistan's judiciary."

"Asia Bibi's case is an example of how Pakistan's vaguely worded blasphemy law has led to discrimination, persecution and murder since its imposition almost three decades ago," Kine told CNN.

Since 2002 the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has called on the administration to designate Pakistan a "country of particular concern," a step that would make it eligible for sanctions or other measures intended to prod governments to stop violating religious freedom.