A Muslim mob attacked a Christian community in eastern Pakistan today, damaging several churches and setting fire to dozens of homes after accusing its members of desecrating the Koran, police and community leaders said.
The incident took place in the town of Jaranwala in the Faisalabad region, police spokesman Navid Ahmad said. A Muslim mob stormed a Christian locality in Pakistan’s eastern Punjab province, burning three churches and demolishing the house of a man after accusing him of desecrating the pages of Islam’s holy book, police said.
The place was blocked as police try to negotiate with the mob, provincial police chief Usman Anwar told English-language website Dawn.com.
A large church and some smaller ones were vandalized, he said.
Dozens of people blocked a highway nearby.
The local administration called in paramilitary units to deal with the violent mob and bring the situation under control, Reuters reported.
A Christian leader, Ahmal Batty, said the Muslim mob set fire to at least five churches and looted valuable objects. They looted houses abandoned by their owners when Muslim clerics made announcements in mosques inciting the mob.
Social media posts show churches, as well as houses and personal belongings, burning.
Blasphemy is punished by death in Pakistan. Although no one has been executed, many defendants have been lynched by angry mob.
Human rights organisations say false accusations of blasphemy are spread to anger the mob. Hundreds of people languish in prison after having been accused of blasphemy as judges often postpone trials for fear of reprisals.
In this photo provided by district police office, a police officer pours water into a burning house at a Christian neighborhood following an angry mob attack in Jaranwala near Faisalabad, Pakistan, on Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023.