Pakistan: Muslims Attack Christian Settlement Over Blasphemy Claims, Injuring Many

Islamabad, Pakistan – In a disturbing turn of events, police in central Pakistan reported a violent attack on a minority Christian settlement in Sargodha, Punjab, leaving several people injured. The assault stemmed from blasphemy allegations against a 70-year-old Christian man accused of desecrating the Quran.

Witnesses and minority rights leaders revealed that a mob of hundreds of Muslims ransacked and set fire to the man’s house and small shoemaking factory. The Christian man was severely beaten during the attack, prompting police intervention to rescue at least 10 Christians and disperse the violent crowd. Several injured individuals were taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.

Authorities disclosed that 10 security personnel were also injured during clashes with protesters, leading to the deployment of additional units to quell religious tensions in the Christian settlement. The police have detained up to 20 suspects in connection with the incident and vowed to make more arrests as investigations into the blasphemy allegations continue.

This incident is part of a troubling pattern in Pakistan, where violent mob attacks against religious minorities are not uncommon. In a similar instance in August 2023 in Jaranwala, Punjab, thousands of people attacked and burned down churches and damaged Christian properties over blasphemy accusations against two Christian brothers.

The sensitive issue of blasphemy in Pakistan has led to numerous incidents where mere allegations have resulted in lynching and violence. Critics have pointed out that the blasphemy laws in the country are often misused to settle personal disputes, with many suspects, predominantly Muslims, languishing in jails for extended periods due to external pressures on judges.

Calls for reforming the blasphemy laws have persisted, with concerns raised over the lack of adherence to evidentiary standards in blasphemy cases. The U.S. State Department has highlighted the disproportionate impact of these laws on religious minorities in Pakistan, underscoring the need for greater protection and justice for all individuals, regardless of their beliefs.