An entire Christian village near the Pakistani city of Lahore reportedly was attacked and burned to the ground by a Muslim mob enraged over claims that a Christian resident insulted the Muslim founder Muhammad.
The rioting followed the arrest and detention of Joseph Colony resident Sawan Masih. Masih allegedly got into a heated religious discussion in a restaurant, and a Muslim threatened to accuse him of blasphemy under Pakistan’s notorious law.
When police arrived, they arrested Masih, according to reports.
Former PLO terrorist-turned-Islam-analyst Walid Shoebat noted that police stood down during and allowed the rioting to take place as Masih was detained.
The mob, estimated to be about 3,000 Muslims, burned down hundreds of buildings, said Shoebat, who has sources who assisted Christian families affected by the attack.
World Watch Monitor, citing the Pakistani newspaper Dawn, estimates the number of destroyed houses at over 150.
The majority were Christian homes, Shoebat pointed out.
Shoebat said personnel from his group, Rescue Pakistan, are protecting families.
“In the wake of the riots, our people on the ground there have provided safe haven for at least 11 Christian families and made an attempt to do the same for Masih before he was arrested. However, the group that Masih entrusted his protection to actually turned him over to police,” Shoebat said.
Rescue Pakistan U. S. leader Keith Davies said the group is doing what’s necessary to defend Christians in Joseph Colony.
“This is something we are working on. We raised significant funds over last 24 hours to be used for food and relocation of families,” Davies said.
International Christian Concern’s Middle East analyst, Aidan Clay, said Pakistan continues to be a dangerous place for Christians.
“Not a month goes by in Pakistan without Christians being attacked, arrested or threatened and forced to flee their homes because of accusations of blasphemy,” Clay said.
Pakistan’s blasphemy laws carry a potential death sentence for anyone who insults Islam.
“Now, an entire colony in Lahore has been emptied of Christians because local Muslims felt justified by law to avenge one Christian’s ‘blasphemous’ remarks by punishing the entire Christian community,” he said.
Clay said the series of events again proves Pakistan’s blasphemy laws do more harm than good.
“Rather than protecting Pakistani citizens, as the law should, blasphemy laws provide cover and embolden extremists to commit violent acts against innocent minorities,” Clay said.
“As long as such laws exist, the country will continue to be plagued by abuse in the name of religion, and Christians and other religious minorities will continue to suffer. No one should be attacked by mobs and disdained by their government simply because they are a member of a minority religious community,” Clay said.
Dawn reported the Pakistani government is promising to rebuild the Christian families’ homes.