Mob in Pakistan torches dozens of Christian houses
Sunni terrorists have been targeting Shia's in Pakistan recently, and now they're going after Christians.
Hundreds of people in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore ransacked a Christian neighborhood Saturday and torched dozens of homes after hearing reports that a Christian man had committed blasphemy against Islam's prophet, said a police officer.
Blasphemy is a serious crime in Pakistan that can carry the death penalty but sometimes outraged residents exact their own retribution for perceived insults of Islam's Prophet Muhammad. Pakistan is overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim and people of other faiths, including the nation's small Christian community, are often viewed with suspicion.
The incident started Friday when a young Muslim man accused a Christian man of committing blasphemy by making offensive comments about the prophet, according to Multan Khan, a senior police officer in Lahore.
A large crowd from a nearby mosque went to the Christian man's home on Friday night, and Khan said police took him into custody to try to pacify the crowd. Fearing for their safety, hundreds of Christian families fled the area overnight.
Khan said the mob returned on Saturday and began ransacking Christian homes and setting them ablaze. He said no one in the Christian community was hurt, but several policemen were injured when they were hit with stones as they tried to keep the crowd from storming the area.
But Akram Gill, a local bishop in the Lahore Christian community said the incident had more to do with personal enmity between two men - one Christian and one Muslim - than blasphemy. He said the men got into a brawl after drinking late one night, and in the morning the Muslim man made up the blasphemy story as payback.
He said the Christian community handed over to police the accused man, identified by police and Gill as Sawan Masih, when police came to the neighborhood to investigate. Then the Christians all locked up their houses and went to relatives in other areas. He said the mob Saturday morning was armed with hammers and steel rods and broke into houses, ransacked two churches and burned Bibles and crosses.
Untold number of Christians will no doubt decide to leave given the atmosphere of religious hatred being whipped up by both political and religious leaders. Pakistan is devolving into a state where extremists are gaining power and influence and the secular government seems incapable of doing anything about it except acquiesce.