A crowd of over 1,200 people reportedly helped to burn a Christian couple alive in Kot Radha Kishan, Pakistan.
Sajjad Maseeh, 27, and his wife, Shama Bibi, 24, were targeted after they were accused of burning the Quran and denounced by local mosques. Shama was allegedly five months pregnant at the time, and her children – aged 4 years, 6 years and 18 months – watched their mother burn alive.
The angry mob was allegedly armed with shovels and other makeshift weapons when they found the couple in their home. They then threw bricks at them, broke their legs so the couple couldn’t escape, covered them in cotton, doused their bodies in gasoline from motorcycles and then incinerated them alive in a local brick kiln.
“I heard a small explosion which I think occurred when [Shama’s] child died," said Yasmeen Bibi, Shama’s older sister.
Prior to the incident, the couple was apparently afraid for their lives and asked permission to leave town. However, they were both in bonded labor, meaning they were obligated to stay and work in the brick factory, where they were eventually killed, to pay off cross-generational debts.
No one is sure if the couple actually did burn the Quran, but Yasmeen said the rumors began when Shama burnt documents belonging to her late father-in-law, who allegedly practiced "black magic." The family believe there were some verses from the Quran in the materials Shama burnt, but Mushtaq Gill, a lawyer and Christian rights activist in Pakistan, said Shama was "uneducated and probably didn't realize she was burning the Quran and not just any documents.”
Shama and Sajjad’s children barely managed to escape the angry mob, and they’re now with relatives. Still, their family worries for their own safety and that of the children.
Yasmeen will not forget what she witnessed, and she doesn’t believe the children will either: “I could not erase those images from my mind. My sister and her husband were tortured, humiliated and burnt alive in front of me and I could do nothing. I saw people becoming beasts.”
Image via NBC