'This is simple growing hatred against Christians,' says human rights activist
A mob has reportedly attacked Christian homes and a church in Pakistan after blasphemy allegations were made against a Christian man.
According to reports by the Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS), the Pakistani Christian human rights group, a number of local men opened fire, threw missiles and threatened to kill Christians in Sandha, Lahore, after 27-year-old Humayun Masih was accused of burning pages of the Koran. The incident took place on Sunday.
Father-of-two Mr Masih, who is believed to be mentally unstable, was arrested and placed in police custody, where the hospital diagnosed him as unstable.
Witnesses claim a local cleric provoked the people in Sandha and as a result local Muslims gathered around and started throwing stones at the Christian houses and local church. They also threatened to burn homes in the area, as happening during the March 2013 incident in Joseph Colony, when over 100 houses were ransacked and torched.
The incident comes around two months after a suicide attack on two churches in Youhanabad, the most heavily populated Christian area of Lahore, when 17 people were killed and 70 injured. Residents of Youhanabad are still living in fear, according to CLAAS.
CLAAS has already submitted a petition in the Pakistani High Court against the local government and the police’s illegal arrest of Christians. The organisation was also able to arrange bail for 10 Christians, and is hoping to provide bail for a further 18.
Nasir Saeed, director of 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 said there are several examples where one individual has been 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,” he said. “But sadly it has still failed to take appropriate action to stop the misuse of the blasphemy law, and ensure security to Christians.”