Pakistan arrests 130 people in blasphemy riot that burned churches

Pakistan arrests 130 people in blasphemy riot that burned churches
Pakistan arrests 130 people in blasphemy riot that burned churches

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistani police arrested round 130 suspected attackers after a Muslim mob, offended over stories Quran pages have been desecrated by Christians, attacked at the very least 5 church buildings and lots of houses within the east of the nation, authorities stated Thursday.

Whereas there have been no stories of accidents or deaths, the large-scale rampages on Wednesday marked a few of the most critical outbreaks of sectarian violence lately in Pakistan, the place accusations of blasphemy frequently lead to unpredictable riots which have previously raged for hours earlier than authorities intervened.

Police solely responded slowly within the wake of Wednesday’s mob violence in Jaranwala, witnesses instructed native media retailers, prompting renewed questions over whether or not Pakistani officers are keen to dedicate ample sources to guard its non secular minorities. The big variety of eventual arrests, nevertheless, steered a extra vigorous response than previously.

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Christians, who account for round 2 % of the inhabitants on this predominantly Sunni Muslim nation of 248 million, are among the many teams most incessantly focused in acts of sectarian violence.

The State Division stated it was “deeply involved” concerning the violence, whereas former prime minister Shehbaz Sharif referred to as the incidents “disturbing,” including that “such insanity can’t be allowed.” Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar, the caretaker prime minister who took over from Sharif final week, vowed “stern motion.”

Naveed Ahmed, spokesman for the police in Faisalabad district, the place Jaranwala is positioned, stated police raids nonetheless continued on Thursday afternoon.

Amir Mir, the regional minister for info, stated Wednesday’s assaults appeared to have been rigorously coordinated. Blasphemy prices have typically been used within the nation to settle private scores.

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Officers rejected accusations that they acted too slowly, saying their intervention prevented one thing worse from taking place. Round 6,000 folks have been believed to have participated within the riots, stated police spokesman Ahmed.

Native officers stated most Christians briefly fled to security. Public conferences and demonstrations within the space have been banned till additional discover.

After the deployment of hundreds of paramilitary troops, authorities stated Thursday that the scenario is beneath management. However the incident is elevating political questions in Pakistan, which is heading towards a common election within the coming months after Parliament was dissolved final week.

“Clearly, in Pakistan, proof will not be required the place the difficulty of blasphemy is anxious, and mobs take it upon themselves to dispense ‘justice,’” wrote Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper in an editorial on Thursday. Do “the rulers — politicians and institution — in addition to clerics and outstanding society figures have the braveness to confront this insanity?”

Underneath Pakistani regulation, blasphemy is punishable by dying, despite the fact that no one has been executed so far. Earlier this yr, lawmakers voted to additional tighten the principles, making it a criminal offense as effectively to insult the companions or kin of prophet Muhammad.

Critics of the nation’s strategy to prosecuting blasphemy allegations say that due course of is usually missing, as authorities yield energy to mobs — both intentionally or as a result of they’re taken abruptly — and people accused find yourself lynched.

In 2009, a Muslim mob killed eight Christians in Gojra metropolis. In one of the crucial current incidents, Priyantha Kumara, a 49-year-old manufacturing facility supervisor from Sri Lanka, was killed by a mob within the Pakistani metropolis of Sialkot in 2021. In preparation for a visiting manufacturing facility delegation, Kumara had taken down non secular posters and thrown them into the trash.

Noack reported from Paris.

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