In an act that one activist called "sheer barbarism," a Christian husband and wife were beaten and burned alive in Pakistan on Tuesday after an angry mob accused them of blasphemy.
The incident took place 40 miles outside Lahore, and is one of several cases within the past few years of Pakistanis being accused of committing blasphemy against Islam with little or no evidence, NPR reports. Inspector Maqbool Ahmed said that witnesses told him a rumor had been spread that Sajjad and Saima Massih defiled the Koran. A mob severely beat the couple, and they were then set on fire inside of a brick factory. Ahmed said that more than 40 people have been arrested and are being questioned in connection with the murders.
Some say the allegation was made after Sajjad Massih had a financial dispute with his employer. "Falsely accusing Christians of blasphemy has become routine," Joseph Francis, head of Pakistan's Centre for Legal Aid Assistance and Settlement, told NPR. "No false accuser has ever been punished." Following the incident, security has been increased in Christian neighborhoods across Punjab province.