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    » 04/16/2011, 00.00

    PAKISTAN

    Punjab, Muslims attack a Christian village

    Jibran Khan

    The attack took place this morning in Khokarki, near the city of Gujranwala. Hundreds of Christians forced to flee their homes. Attack sparked by quarrel with Christian, his son and some Muslims, over false accusation of blasphemy. The two Christians held at the local police station.

    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.

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    See also

    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 ".

    06/12/2011 PAKISTAN
    Lahore, false accusation of blasphemy against a Christian. Fears for his life
    A builder of 25 has been falsely accused of having ripped and burned pages of the Koran by a Muslim known for his hatred toward non-Muslims. The police registered the complaint despite the intervention of religious leaders. Fanatic groups threaten to kill him.

    20/07/2010 PAKISTAN
    Faisalabad, murdered brothers buried. Justice and Peace: abolish the blasphemy law now
    At 8 this morning the community bid a final farewell to Sajid and Rashid Emmanuel. Their murder has sparked violent clashes between Christians and Muslims. The police are patrolling the streets but the situation is "explosive." Catholic activist: "renewed commitment to cancellation of discriminatory laws." Christian couple threatened with death for a documentary on Gojra.



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