Saturday, March 09, 2013

Pakistani Mob Burn Down Dozens Of Christian Houses Over Blasphemy Accusation

In Pakistan where blasphemy laws reign supreme, and all it takes is an unfounded accusation to spark an uproar, Pakistanis (who seem to easily bear grudges), took to the streets, once again, causing the usual havoc and destruction.

This time, a Christian man was falsely accused of blasphemy by a young Muslim man, and in order to appease the angry mob police arrested and charged him under Section 295-C.  The mob then headed on over to a predominately Christian enclave in Lahore (Joseph Colony) where they proceeded to torch dozens of houses.

The story goes:

The Christian, Sawan Masih, and the Muslim guy apparently got into a fight at a bar where they both had been drinking the night before. In retaliation, the Muslim accused Masih of insulting the Prophet, something that happens quite often, and has- at times- ended in the death of the accused blasphemers at the hands of vigilantes. In this case, after the mob made their way to Masih's house and the young man was taken away by the police, neighbours locked up their homes and went to stay with relatives elsewhere. That's when the destruction of 150 or so houses and two churches (including the burning of Bibles and crosses) began. They'd like us to believe that they don't burn Bibles, but that's not quite the truth.

According to Akram Gill, a local bishop, mostly poor people were living there, and they have been left with virtually nothing. An AP reporter witnessed massive destruction  of personal property.

One man was seen carrying a dog and some puppies from a burning house. Refrigerators, washing and sewing machines, cooking pots, beds and other household goods were ripped from homes, smashed and burned in the streets.
"They have burnt each and every thing in my whole house. Nothing is left here. I don't know why this happened," said Samina Riaz. "Now we don't have even enough to eat."
Although Christians are most often the targets when it comes to accusations of blasphemy, Muslims have also been accused. But it's only with the Christians that angry mobs bother to target the whole community, as opposed to just the individual. As for motive? Zohra Yusuf of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) said:

"Most of the time there are other motives involved," she said, such as scaring off Christian residents to grab their property.

Or other personal grudges.

Officials have said they will make arrests, but nothing will come of it. It never does. Remember the imam who falsely accused the young Christian girl of desecrating the Quran? Released.

One shining light in the darkness that is Pakistan:

One Christian couple from the neighborhood said they went to their Muslim neighbors' house on Friday night after people came looking for the Christian man accused of blasphemy. Ishaq Masih said the Muslim neighbors sheltered the couple for the night and then gave them money to leave the area in the morning.

Sources: Dawn, AJC

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