Gurjarnwala (AsiaNews) - Hundreds of Muslims attacked the Christian village of Khokarki this morning a few miles from the city of Gujranwala (Punjab), forcing its inhabitants to flee. According to AsiaNews sources, anonymous for security reasons, the attack took place following a dispute between Christian Mushtag gill and some local Muslims, who had accused the man and his son of blasphemy.
Mushtaq, 60, and his son, are accused of having desecrated the Koran. The police arrested them yesterday, after complaints of some Muslims who claim to have found torn pages of the Qu’ran in a bag hidden near the home of two Christians.
Mushtaq Gill is the vice president of the Christian Technical Training Center (Cttc), linked to the theological seminary in Gujranwala. After the arrest police took the man and his son to the local police station, for a preliminary interrogation. According to local sources, the case has not yet been registered by the police, who are conducting the investigation. The news sparked panic among the Christian community, while the family of the two accused were forced to abandon their homes and seek refuge with friends.
To help and Mushtaq and his son, the family contacted the Masihi foundation, an association specializing in the defence of religious minorities. Naz Masih Ishaq, vice president of the foundation, said he had already tried to contact the authorities of Gujranwala to resolve the situation.
Gujranwala and surrounding areas are among the most active centres of Islamic extremists. In the past, there have been several incidents in the city of attacks against churches, occupation of Christian property and murders tied to false accusations of blasphemy.
On 5 April in Chak Jhumra (Faisalab, Punjab), another Christian, Arif Masih, was arrested by police for allegedly ripping pages of the Qur’an. The Muslim community in the village took the defences of man, who is the victim of a personal vendetta for a matter related to land.
According to data from the National Commission for Justice and Peace of the Catholic Church (NCJP), between 1986 to August 2009 at least 964 people were charged with desecrating the Qur’an or defaming the Prophet Muhammad. Among these, 479 were Muslims, 119 Christians, 340 Ahmadis, 14 Hindus and 10 from other religions. It also provides a pretext for attacks, personal vendettas or extra-judicial killings: 33 in all, carried out by individuals or angry crowds.