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Pakistan: 2 Christians killed, churches burnt over blasphemy

Following accusations that two of its members had desecrated the Koran, a Muslim mob attacked a Christian community in eastern Pakistan on Wednesday, damaging numerous churches and torching a large number of homes, according to police and local officials.

According to police spokesman Naveed Ahmad, the attack took place at Jaranwala in Faisalabad’s industrial neighbourhood. He added that the two Christians and their family members had fled their houses after being accused of blasphemy.

According to provincial police commander Usman Anwar, the area has been blocked off as officers talk with the throng.

According to the police case against the two Christians, they discovered Koranic pages with certain offensive words highlighted in red.

Although no one has ever been hanged for blasphemy in Pakistan, many accused individuals have been lynched by incensed mobs.

A previous governor of Pakistan’s Punjab province and a minister for minorities were both shot and killed due to their opposition to blasphemy killings.

Human rights organisations claim that blasphemy accusations are also applied arbitrarily. Judges frequently delay cases because they worry about backlash if they are perceived as being too kind, according to those who are languishing in prison after being accused of crimes.

“The frequency and scale of such attacks — which are systematic, violent and often uncontainable — appear to have increased in the last several years,” the Human Rights Commision of Pakistan said in a statement.

The rights organisation demanded that, in accordance with the 2014 Supreme Court ruling, special police teams be established and outfitted to guard the places of worship of religious minorities.

Anwar ul Haq Kakar, the acting prime minister, demanded that anyone accountable for the violence on Wednesday face harsh punishment.

“I am gutted by the visuals coming out,” he told the media.

A nearby highway was blocked by hundreds of people in protest of the allegedly desecrated Koran.

Akmal Bhatti, a Christian leader, claimed that the mob had “torched” at least five churches and taken valuables from empty homes.

Social media posts depicted various churches, homes, and possessions on fire with police present.

According to a government source, the crowd consisted of thousands of individuals who were mostly members of the Islamist political party Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) and were directed by local clerics.

However, the TLP denied encouraging the violence and asserted that it had cooperated with the police to try to defuse the situation.