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Dozens Arrested for Killing of Christian Couple in Pakistan


Pakistani Christians chant slogans to condemn the killing of a Christian couple during a demonstration in Lahore, Pakistan, Nov. 5, 2014.

Police in Pakistan have arrested at least 44 people in connection with Tuesday's killing of a Christian couple accused of desecrating a Quran.

The killings took place in Kot Radha Kishan, about 60 kilometers southwest of Lahore. Police said a man and his wife were beaten to death by an angry mob, and their bodies were burned at the brick kiln where they worked.

Police said a local cleric announced through the loudspeakers of his mosque that the couple had committed blasphemy, sparking the mob.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif called the killings an "unacceptable crime" that a responsible state could not tolerate.

The couple reportedly were bonded laborers and had been working to pay off their debt to the kiln owner.

Hundreds of Pakistani Christians and human rights activists demonstrated in Lahore against the killings, accusing authorities of failing to protect minorities.

Amnesty International has condemned what it calls a climate of impunity around violence against religious minorities in Muslim-majority Pakistan.

A Christian woman, Asia Bibi, has been on death row since November 2010, after a court found her guilty of making derogatory remarks about the Muslim prophet Mohammed during an argument with a Muslim woman. Critics say Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are often used by influential members to settle personal disputes.

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