‘Blasphemy’ revenge: over 100 Pakistani Christians homes set ablaze

ebf3christians  homes burnt in lahore ‘Blasphemy’ revenge: over 100 Pakistani Christians homes set ablaze

Around 3,000 Muslim protesters took part in multiplesimultaneous arsons of Christian homes, that belonged to low tomiddle-class families from the minority community.Police say 25 houses were burnt, but witnesses put the number atfar more than one hundred.”At least 160 houses, 18 shops and two small churches wereburnt by protesters,” the independent Human Rights Commissionof Pakistan (HRCP),Dr Ahmad Raza told AFP, as he was busy in rescueoperations in the area.Media reports, citing eyewitness accounts, claimed thatprotesters broke into the homes, looted them and burnt theremaining belongings outside.There are no reports of any victims, but officials say 20policemen were slightly injured during clashes, as they dispersedprotestors from the neighborhood.Sanitary worker and Christian, Sawan Masih, was charged withblasphemy by nearby residents after allegedly making humiliatingremarks about Prophet Mohammed in a private conversation withbarber Shahid Imran, three days prior to the act of vandalism,according to police official Multan Khan. It was Imran who is saidto have complained of Masih’s behaviour. The law enforcer also added that Masih was arrested on Friday,while the incident with alleged blasphemous remarks about ProphetMohammed took place earlier on Wednesday. An account of theincident suggested that the young Christian was drunk. Fearing abacklash, Christians fled their homes, leaving possessionsunprotected upon. Provincial law minister Rana Sanaullah promisedthat the government would not spare those involved in the attack,with cases already opened against those responsible for Saturday’svandalism, noting that they will be prosecuted.”These people committed a serious crime… there was nomoral, legal or religious ground to indulge in such an act,” hetold journalists.In an interview with the Express News Pakistani TV channel theminister said, that all those whose property had been damaged willbe compensated within five days.Spokesman for the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance, ShamaunAlfred Gill, also condemned the violence and demanded that thegovernment provide security to Pakistani Christians.96% of the population in Pakistan (around 173 million people)are Muslims, while only 1,6% profess Christianity (around 2.8million). Blasphemy is considered there a very serious crime, withthe country’s laws allowing the death penalty for anyone provenguilty.Last year’s case against a 14-year-old Christian girl, who washeld for three weeks in a high security prison for allegedlyburning pages from the Koran, triggered an outcry both from thePakistani population and the international community. After word ofher alleged crime spread through the Muslim community, a mobthreatened to burn the girl alive. Police later claimed that theyarrested her for her own safety. The teenager could have beensentenced to life in prison if convicted, but the judge set herbail at approximately $10,500.Out of court blasphemy is also a very sensitive issue inPakistan, as allegations of insulting Islam or the Prophet Mohammedcan trigger violent outbursts of public anger, even when unproven.Blasphemy allegations are believed to be frequently concocted inthe country to persecute religious minorities and settle personalscores.

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‘Blasphemy’ revenge: over 100 Pakistani Christians homes set ablaze

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