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    » 03/09/2013, 00.00

    PAKISTAN

    Lahore, more than 100 Christian homes burned over blasphemy charge

    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
    Sunil Masih, 25, left the group travelling to Mariamabad and never returned. The corpse showed signs of injury. Police deny possibility of his being run over by a truck. Identity of the perpetrators of the murder still unknown. The pain of the family, who lost their only son.

    20/06/2013 PAKISTAN
    Christian minister in Islamabad: Economics and minority rights, here are my challenges
    From 8 June Kamran Michael is Federal Minister for Ports and Shipping in the PML-N-led government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. For 10 years a member of the provincial assembly of Punjab, he is the second Christian (after Shahbaz Bhatti) to play a leading role in the executive. A plan for development and the goal of peace.

    29/10/2009 PAKISTAN
    Save Christians and Pakistan from the blasphemy law
    The blasphemy law - prison and death sentences for those who offend the Koran or Muhammad - is a tool to eliminate religious minorities. AsiaNews launches an awareness campaign for its repeal. Because of this law, since 2001 at least 50 Christians have been killed, families and entire villages destroyed. In the country Islamic and Christian voices appeal for its cancellation.

    29/10/2009 PAKISTAN
    The Catholic Church in Pakistan (An overview)
    Catholics are less than 1% of a total of over 160 million inhabitants. There are two archdiocese in the country, four dioceses and an apostolic prefecture. A small minority but active and appreciated for efforts in education, helping the poor, health care and emergency interventions.

    27/02/2010 PAKISTAN
    Karachi, a Christian sentenced to life imprisonment for blasphemy
    Qamar David was in prison since 2006. In the weeks after his arrest police failed to find any concrete evidence against him. Muslim co-defendant acquitted, for lack of evidence. Christian activists: verdict result of "influences and prejudices” and motivated by “ external pressures ".



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