Lahore (AsiaNews) - Three years after the brutal killing of Shama and Shahzad Masih, a young Christian couple, the Cecil & Iris Chaudhry Foundation (CICF) held a week of prayer to remember them.
The Foundation also used the occasion to appeal to Pakistani authorities to ensure the "security and protection of all its citizens regardless of faith, caste or gender [. . .] as enshrined in the Constitution".
Since the death of the couple, the foundation has been responsible for the education of three of their orphaned children, whilst a fourth child was adopted by an uncle.
On 4 November 2014, at Kot Radha Kishan in Kasur District (about 60km from Lahore), a crowd of more than 400 people stoned Shahzad Masih and his wife Shama, then burnt them alive in a furnace. Shama was pregnant when the couple was accused of blasphemy.
A colleague of Shahzad, working at a kiln factory, claimed to have seen Shama burn pages of the Qurʾān.
In the statement issued by the Foundation, President Michelle Chaudhry mentioned the horror that “will remain in our hearts and minds".
“[T]hey did not only burn two precious lives in that furnace; they burnt humanity, they burnt the teachings of Islam and they burnt Jinnah’s Pakistan* and no amount of monetary reparations can atone for such extreme acts of violence.”
The Christian couple left several young children, aged 18 months to eight years. The eldest, Suleiman, also saw the murder of his parents. Since their death, the Foundation has taken charge of them, funding their education.
“It gives us immense joy and spiritual gratification to see these children happy, confident and doing so well in life,” Chaudhry said.
"With love, care and a healthy environment they are now well adjusted in school,” she added. What is more, they “are not only doing well academically but they also eagerly participate in the school’s extracurricular activities."
The foundation is a non-profit non-governmental organisation that deals with disadvantaged groups and is named after the late Group Captain Cecil Chaudhry, a former fighter pilot and Catholic activist.
* Ali Jinnah, founder of Pakistan, envisaged a modern and secular Pakistan.