Pakistan: Muslim mob attacks church and Christian colony after Christian accused of blasphemy
Christian homes and a church have been attacked by an angry Muslim mob after blasphemy allegations were made against a Christian man.
According to reports, on May 24 the gang opened fire, threw missiles and threatened to kill Christians in Sandha, Lahore, after Humayun Masih, 27, was accused of burning pages of the Holy Quran.
Humayun is married with two daughters, but his wife left him because of his mental condition. He has been arrested and is in police custody, and it is believed that he has been declared mentally unstable by the hospital.
Witnesses claim the local cleric provoked the people in Gulshan Ravi, Sandha and consequently local Muslims gathered around and started throwing stones at the Christian’s houses and local church.
They also threatened to burn homes in the area, not unlike the March 2013 incident in Joseph Colony, where over 100 houses were ransacked and torched. Despite video evidence nobody has been convicted.
To control the situation the DIG (District Inspector General) called in the elite forces who had to use tear gas to disperse the mob. A large police force has sealed the area but the situation is still tense.
The incident comes around two month after a suicide attack on two churches in the most heavily populated Christian colony, Youhanabad, where 17 people were killed and 70 were injured. Residents of Youhanabad are still living under fear, as according to reports, the police is still arresting people, and now Christian men and women keep watch throughout the night to prevent the police illegally entering their homes and arresting them.
CLAAS has already submitted a petition in the High Court against the local government and the police’s illegal arrest of Christians. Recently CLAAS was able to get bail for 10 Christians, and is hoping that a further 18 people will be bailed out during this week.
CLAAS’s Pakistan team is present at the scene and in touch with families and the local authorities, to calm the situation and ensure safety to those Christians who have fled the area, so they can return.
Nasir Saeed Director CLAAS, UK, said: “Although blasphemy is a very sensitive issue, nobody should be allowed to take the law into their own hands. While Pakistan has local police and courts to punish those who commit such crimes, even on mere accusations being made against Christians, local Muslims turn violent and attack whole communities that have nothing to do with the individual’s act. This is simple growing hatred against Christians.”
He further said that there are now several examples where one individual is accused of committing blasphemy and their whole village is set on fire.
“The law is widely being misused to settle personal vendettas and even the government has admitted this. But sadly it has still failed to take appropriate action to stop the misuse of the blasphemy law, and ensure security to Christians.”
Mr Saeed continued that the government had failed to bring perpetrators to the justice, in effect encouraging them as they continue taking the law into their hands, and attacking Christian villages, town and churches, and even burning Christians alive.
“It is the government’s responsibility not to be biased against Christians but punish those responsible according to the law,” he concluded.