Burned, looted home in Korian village (Centre for Legal Aid Assistance and Settlement)
Islamic extremists have torched 50 homes and a church, murdering at least 14 Christians in Pakistan following allegations of “blasphemy” of the Quran.
According to Compass Direct News, the incident took place Saturday in Gojra, Pakistan. The death toll included women, children and other burn victims who were unable to reach hospitals for proper medical care.
A report from the Centre for Legal Aid Assistance and Settlement, or CLAAS, revealed the assault happened during a protest by thousands of Muslim Islamists, including members of banned militant groups. Six more casualties were reported after protesters fired weapons at police and officers shot back.
According to Compass Direct News, more than 500 Islamic extremists looted and set fire to another 60 homes in response to the same rumor of desecration of the Quran only two days earlier in the village of Korian.
Despite many murders and destruction of more than 100 homes, officials say there’s no proof that “blasphemy” of the Quran ever took place.
Punjab Minister for Law Rana Sanaullah told CLAAS early investigations show “there has not been any incident of desecration.”
Law enforcement personnel were overcome by an angry crowd Saturday.
“There were unaccountable people in the mob and they were out of control because only four police constables were trying to stop the mob of thousands of people,” according to a CLAAS report.
The attackers blocked roads and railways to prevent firefighters from reaching the burning homes while clerics at local mosques proclaimed that those “who love Muhammad and Islam should gather with them to defend the Islam because it is in danger.”
Angry Muslims then burned and demolished a Catholic church with explosives and firearms while victims unsuccessfully sought medical attention for burns.
According to Compass Direct, mainstream media have referred to such incidents as “Christian and Muslim rioting.” But the news agency confirmed that nearly all village Christian families fled during the Korian incident while Muslims set fires, turning their homes and personal belongings to ash.
“Our house is burnt and everything is gone, but Muslim neighbors around are not willing to give us a loaf of bread or a sip of water to us,” 80-year-old Baba Sharif Masih told Compass.
Masih, a paralyzed man, and his wife Hanifa Bibi, 73, were the only Christians remaining in the village in the northeastern province of Punjab because they were unable to escape.
A Christian in Korian named Shabir told reporters Muslims accused Christians of blasphemy after a wedding on July 25. He said Christians threw currency and coins into the air in celebration of the event. Meanwhile, Muslims at a nearby funeral demanded the Christians silence their music, but the Christians declined. The Muslims later accused the Christians of cutting pages from the Quran that were the size of currency notes and tossing them into the air. Then they began beating the Christians and looting and burning homes.
One Muslim leader named Qari Noor Ahmed told Compass the Christians trampled pages of the Quran under their feet. He said village authorities demanded an apology, but the Christians never gave one.
“Then Muslims became furious that first they had profaned the Quran, and now they had fled and were not apologizing,” Ahmed said. “Then the villagers attacked their houses.”
A deputy at the Sadar Police Station told Compass a blasphemy complaint had been filed against the accused Christians but no action had been taken against Muslims for the attacks.
A door to a Christian’s home in Pakistan demolished by a Muslim mob in this photograph from the Barnabas Aid
As WND recently reported, Muslims also attacked fleeing Christians with acid because a Christian man driving a tractor reportedly tried to pass a Muslim on a motorcycle.
Barnabas Aid reported that the July violence happened in the village of Bahmani Walla in Punjab state in Pakistan, which is dominated by Islamic influences.
The report said 600 Muslims used gasoline
bombs to vandalize 117 homes belonging to Christians – including 48 damaged by fire, and sabotage water pumps and cut electricity.
Following the confrontation, news was spread among Muslims that there had been blasphemy against Islam, and it took only a few hours for a 600-strong mob of Muslims to assemble and begin the attack.
Cars and trucks owned by Christians were burned or stolen, jewelry and cash were taken and the next morning found Christian business owners facing a boycott.
Wreckage of a Christian’s home damaged by a Muslim mob in this photograph from the Barnabas Aid
“The most disturbing development was the throwing of acid at the Christians as they fled. At least nine women and four children have been injured,” the Christian ministry reported.
While blasphemy carries a death penalty in Pakistan, there is no punishment available for making a false accusation that someone was guilty of the crime, the ministry said.
“Please pray for our Christian brothers and sisters in Bahmani Walla, who have suffered in this shocking attack, pray that the authorities will investigate thoroughly and bring to justice the perpetrators,” said Patrick Sookhdeo, the international director for Barnabas Aid.
The organization also is accepting contributions to help some of the Christians deal with the needs of housing and food while their homes are restored and their lives re-assembled.