Canada Denounces Beating and Burning to Death of Christian Couple in Pakistan

international.gc.ca: November 5, 2014 – Andrew Bennett, Canada’s Ambassador for Religious Freedom, today issued the following statement:

“I was saddened to learn of a Christian couple who were beaten and burned to death by a local mob in Pakistan’s Punjab province, Pakistan. My thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the deceased.

“The two victims, Shahzad and Shama Masih, were said to be in their mid-20s and expecting a child. They leave behind three children. It has also been reported that following a financial dispute, the two were accused of blasphemy, a charge that sparked the mob to attack the couple.

“This is only the latest in a long series of religiously motivated, violent attacks on individuals who are accused, often falsely, under Pakistan’s draconian blasphemy laws. It underscores the need to support Pakistani civil society to strengthen pluralism, human rights and the rule of law, and for the Pakistani government to reform the blasphemy laws to prevent their abuse, as they are used disproportionately and often opportunistically to target religious minorities.

“Canada strongly denounces such violence, and we call for Pakistani authorities to ensure both the personal safety of all Pakistani citizens and the right of all religious communities to practise their faiths in peace and security, free from violent attack.”

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For further information, media representatives may contact:

Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada
343-203-7700
media@international.gc.ca
Twitter: @FreedomReligion and @DFATDCanada
Facebook: Canada’s Office of Religious Freedom

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