March 15 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

3-PAKISTANI-CHRISTIANS-PROT

Christians in Pakistan under attack

Police make hundreds of arrests after Muslim mob in Lahore burn down Christian homes

Police in the Pakistani city of Lahore have made hundreds of arrests after a Muslim mob burned down dozens of Christians’ homes.

Government officials and emergency teams are examining the damage in the city’s Joseph Colony area to see how people can be helped, police said.

The inhabitants had already fled their homes when the mob struck on Saturday. Christians gathered in Lahore and Karachi, the country’s biggest city, to protest at the attack the following day. They condemned the violence and called for better protection as well as compensation for those affected.

Police spokesmen said that the violence was sparked by a dispute between a Muslim and a Christian, in which the Muslim accused the Christian on blasphemy.  Allegations of blasphemy against Islam are a huge issues in Pakistan, with a number of controversial recent prosecutions.

A local Catholic bishop said the government had to protect his people. Christians make up about 1.6 per cent of Pakistan’s population.

“We condemn acts of violence of this kind and we call on the government to ensure the safety of citizens, and especially of religious minorities,” Bishop Sebastian Francis Shah, auxiliary bishop and apostolic administrator of the archdiocese of Lahore, said.

Police said the incident began when two friends, a Muslim and a Christian, had apparently become involved in a drunken argument, with the former accusing the latter of a blasphemous comment.

It appears that a crowd of Muslims went from a mosque on Friday to the house of the Christian man.The man was taken into police custody in a bid to pacify the crowd while hundreds of Christians fled their homes.

On Saturday, a mob began ransacking and burning their houses. Police Officer Abdul Majid said that one group had taken it upon themselves to dispense justice.

 

Pervez Rashid, a spokesman for the Punjab provincial government, told Geo television the suspects ‘would be tried in anti-terrorist courts.’

Punjab police said four officers had been removed from their posts for ‘negligence.’

Fr Peter John, from the Church of St Patrick in Karachi, urged the government to ‘see also that the people who are affected, their properties are burnt… get some sort of compensation.’

–        This story was reported in full in the March 15 print edition of the SCO.

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