Christians under attack again in Pakistan
The atmosphere is tense in Gujrunwala, Pakistan, this week, following attacks on a Christian homes a school and church.
Many Christians have fled the area, following the violence on Saturday 30 April, which left some 50 people wounded and resulted in 25 arrests, according to newspaper reports.
The violence followed the release of two Christian men who had been accused of desecrating the Qur'an by writing on it and burning pages.
Police had arrested them two weeks before. It soon became clear the accusations were fabricated after the police employed a handwriting expert to test whether the men wrote the offending words.
On Friday 29th, rumours began circulating that the men had been released, although the police had kept them in protective custody. This is what is thought to have sparked the violence.
On Saturday morning mobs attacked Christian homes in the Aziz Colony in Gujrunwala. Police responded with tear gas and shots fired into the air.
The fear was intense, reported one senior faculty member at Gujrunwala Theological Seminary* on Saturday: "All [the] community is under siege and cannot even get out of their houses. Police and civil authorities are trying to control the situation but it seems to be out of control."
The situation seemed broadly under control by Tuesday 3 May, with police maintaining a significant round-the-clock presence on the streets, particularly around Aziz Colony.
Also on Tuesday police arrested two Muslims from Aziz Colony in their continuing investigation to find the real culprits of the Qur'an desecration, reported another correspondent, a student at the United Bible Training Centre (UBTC) in Gujrunwala. "They think one of them did this just [because] he wanted to create problem for Christians," wrote the student.
At least 3,000 Christian families fled the area for Lahore and Sialkot, said the Express Tribune newspaper on Sunday. They feared 'another Gojra' – the incident in July 2009 when eight Christians were killed in retaliation for supposed desecration of the Qur'an.
The violence came at the end of two weeks of tension following the initial allegations. Christians in Pakistan ask our prayers that the police investigation will yield results quickly. "If it takes time we will suffer," said the UBTC student.
However, the Express Tribune's report ended on an encouraging note: "The incident is the first where, despite having two people clearly accused of blasphemy, the police did not bow to intense pressure from religious and political parties."
*Sources are not named for their protection.
Published: 11:54 05 May 2011 | 2770 viewsLast updated: 05 May 2011 See other stories in these categories: Interfaith, NEWS, All News and Views, Pakistan