More than 200 homes in a Christian area of Lahore were set alight during two days of violence this weekend sparked by a fresh blasphemy row, say Release partners.
Thousands of Muslims went on the rampage in Joseph colony after allegations of blasphemy against a local Christian were broadcast from mosque loudspeakers on Friday. Hundreds of Christians across Pakistan took to the streets yesterday to demand better protection.
The accusations were made after Sawan Masih, a 35-year-old roadsweeper and father-of-three, had what our partners describe as a petty row with a close Muslim friend. Thousands of Muslims, spurred on by a local prayer leader’s broadcasts, marched on Joseph colony soon after 4pm on Friday, setting fire to homes and beating Christians.
On Saturday morning, a mob of almost 4,000 people returned to loot and burn homes over a five-hour period. More than 200 homes were destroyed, and two churches, a chapel and eight shops were vandalised; about 500 Bibles were also burned.
Police are reported to have arrested Sawan and a first information report under the blasphemy laws has been registered against him. Our partners have already made a fact-finding trip to the colony and are assessing people’s needs. Many lack even the most basic essentials.
(Sources: Release partners, Reuters)
- Pray that the community of Joseph colony will work together to rebuild their lives after this attack and draw closer to God as a result of their ordeal. Ask God to give them courage and hope to face the future.
- Pray for justice for innocent people who have lost everything. Pray that officials will stand up against this lawlessness and do more to protect Christian communities. Pray that all charges against Sawan will be dropped and ask God to protect him and his family as well as Release partners who are supporting them.
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