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» 03/09/2013
PAKISTAN
Lahore, more than 100 Christian homes burned over blasphemy charge
by Jibran Khan
The attack followed altercation between a young Christian and a Islamic barber: the Muslim insulted Christianity and then reported the boy for blasphemy. The mob looted, stoned, doused in acid and then burned the Christian settlement. Local imam: "We'll find the Christian and kill him."

Lahore (AsiaNews) - This morning, an angry mob set fire to over 100 homes in the Joseph Colony Christian settlement, near Badami Bah (Lahore). Residents were forced to flee and at least 35 people were injured. The attack resulted from an accusation of blasphemy registered against one of the settlement residents, Sawan Masih, who yesterday afternoon had an altercation with a Muslim.

According to initial reports, the 26 year old Christian went to the Islamic barber for a haircut, but the store owner, Imran Shahid, refused to serve him. A heated discussion arose between the two, and the Muslim reportedly used offensive words about Christianity.

Together with other people, Shahid then went to the nearby police station, the group recorded a charge of blasphemy against Masih (art.295C), arguing that the young man was drunk and had insulted the Prophet Muhammad. Shortly after, the police arrested the Christian. The maximum penalty under that law is life imprisonment.

The anger of the Islamic community did not subside however, and this morning a large group of people ransacked Joseph Colony, then set fire to the homes. "We were working like every day - Salamat Masih, a resident of the settlement told AsiaNews - when we started to hear a noise, and suddenly a wall of people fell upon the colony. They threw acid and stoned our houses, then set them on fire. The authorities intervened only when everything was destroyed". The local imam said Sawan will be killed when found.

Human rights associations, such as Masihi Foundation and Life for All rushed to the scene  to help the victims. For Msgr. Rufin Anthony, bishop of Islamabad-Rawalpindi, "it is very sad to see that minorities in Pakistan are not safe and are targeted for their religion. It is vital that we work for national harmony.

 


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See also
09/09/2011 PAKISTAN
Pakistani Christian killed during pilgrimage to the town of Mary
06/20/2013 PAKISTAN
Christian minister in Islamabad: Economics and minority rights, here are my challenges
by Jibran Khan
10/29/2009 PAKISTAN
Save Christians and Pakistan from the blasphemy law
by Dario Salvi
10/29/2009 PAKISTAN
The Catholic Church in Pakistan (An overview)
02/27/2010 PAKISTAN
Karachi, a Christian sentenced to life imprisonment for blasphemy
by Fareed Khan

Editor's choices
VATICAN
Pope: on the persecution of Christians, the international community should "not stand by mute and inactive” and “look away”For the sixth time in a week, Pope Francis mentioned the martyrdom of Christians in today’s Regina Caeli (the Marian prayer at Easter), slamming the indifference of the international community towards this "alarming failure to protect basic human rights.” Today’s martyrs "are many, and we can say that they are more numerous than in the first centuries." In addition, “Faith in the resurrection of Jesus and the hope He has brought to us is the most beautiful gift that a Christian can and must offer his brothers and sisters. To one and all, therefore, do not tire of repeating: Christ is Risen!”
ASIA
Easter: The silence of the innocent and the gag
by Bernardo CervelleraViolations of religious freedom and the West's hypocricy surrounding this issue are likely to drag the world into an unprecedented chaos. But even in silence - of death accepted for love or death inflicted by power - God is at work. An indestructible hope rises on Easter morning and a small opening of the heart is just enough for it to invade a lifetime. Happy Easter.
IRAN
Time for a deal with Tehran, a reliable partner against the Islamic State group
by Bernardo Cervellera A framework agreement on the Iranian nuclear issue has to be inked by 31 March. US Republicans, Israel and Saudi Arabia are fiercely opposed to it for ulterior motives. Hassan Rouhani wants Iran to come back into the international fold. Tehran is playing a mediating role in the Middle East. For Vatican nuncio, “there is no evidence that Iran is preparing a nuclear bomb.”

Dossier

by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
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