Christian homes were torched in Pakistan when an angry mob tore through a Christian neighborhood after a man there was accused of blasphemy against Islam’s prophet.
The actions against the Pakastani Christians started when a Muslim man accused a Christian of making offensive comments about the prophet. This prompted a large group from a nearby mosque to go to the man’s home.
The mob left but returned on Saturday, and as residents fled to safety the Christian homes were torched and looted.
“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, a Christian whose home was torched by the mob. “Now we don’t have even enough to eat.”
Speaking out against the prophet Mohammed is a serious crime in Pakistan punishable by the death penalty, though outraged residents in Pakistan and other Muslim nations sometimes take matters into their own hands. After reports surfaced last fall of an American movie critical of Mohammed and the Koran, there were protests in several countries, some of which turned into riots.
And in Pakistan last year, a 14-year-old girl was jailed for three weeks in a high-security prison for allegedly burning pages of the Koran.
Pakistan’s population is overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim, and as a result people of other faiths are often viewed with suspicion. A local Christian bishop said there was more to this incident, however. He said the Muslim man who initiated the mob had gotten into a drunken fight with the Christian he accused, and was seeking payback against the man.
Close to 150 Christian homes were torched in the attack, but there were still stories of cooperation outside of the angry mob. One Christian couple said after fleeing the mob they were taken in by their Muslim neighbors, who protected them for the night and gave them money to leave the area in the morning.