Muslim mob attacks Christians in Pakistan, hundreds flee
Posted by jagoindia on July 4, 2009
* Christians say blasphemy charges result of misunderstanding, argument between two boys
* DCO ‘apologises’ to Christians
By Ali Usman
LAHORE: At least 110 Christian families, almost 700 people, were forced on Tuesday night to flee Bahmniwala, a village in Kasur, after angry mobs attacked and threatened to burn their houses for allegedly committing blasphemy.
The families sought safety in the fields surrounding their village, even as local mosques urged the Muslims to unite and “teach a lesson” to the Christians, residents told Daily Times. However, locals told Daily Times the problem started when a Christian boy, Arif Mashi, was travelling on a tractor and asked a Muslim boy, Muhammad Riaz, to allow him to pass. When Riaz refused, the two quarrelled.
Following this incident, on Tuesday night, a mob attacked houses of the area’s Christian community with petrol-bombs, destroying their electricity meters and thrashing any Christians they found. On Wednesday, the Muslim community refused to communicate with the Christian community, boycotting their businesses. The Christians who returned to their homes found they had no electricity or drinking water the entire day. “Despite the presence of police, the mosques continued to urge a complete Christian boycott,” Sohail Johnson, chief coordinator of the Sharing Life Ministry, said.
Human Rights and Minority Affairs Minister Kamran Michael said he had asked officials of the Revenue Department to compile an estimate of the loss suffered by the Christian community. He said justice would be ensured, adding the government would investigate the people responsible for turning the incident into a religious issue.
A committee comprising Christian and Muslim elders of the area, led by Kasur District Coordination Officer (DCO) Abdul Jabbar Shaheen, was formed on Wednesday to look into the matter and negotiate a peace deal between the two groups. The committee has been given four days to settle the matter.
DCO: The DCO said Islam did not allow cruelties against minorities. In his capacity as the DCO, he apologised to the Christians for the treatment that was meted out to them. A fact-finding mission led by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), will travel to the area today (Thursday) to probe into the matter.