(UnitedVoice.com) – Pakistan isn’t exactly the kind of place someone would describe as a bastion for religious freedom. The nation is known for its adherence to Islamic law. Recently, that led to attacks on the homes of Christians.
On Wednesday, August 16, wild mobs went on a rampage in Jaranwala, a city in the district of Faisalabad in the Punjab province. According to reports, the violence started when a local Christian, Raja Amir, and one of his friends ripped pages out of a Quran. They threw them on the ground and then wrote insulting remarks on other pages of the holy book.
The behavior angered the Muslims in the area, and a mob began attacking the homes and churches of Christians in the community. Shahid Mehmood, a resident of the town, told Al Jazeera that he owns a business about 165 feet from the Salvation Army Church. He said that when he arrived at his shop at about 10 a.m., “hundreds of people gathered outside the church.” He decided to close his shop just 10 minutes after opening.
The mob went on to attack the church and others in the area. About 150 Christian families lived in a colony near the Salvation Army Church, and they were forced to evacuate. Women and children were among those fleeing their homes.
Police chief Rizwan Khan told NPR the mob was burning furniture and other items inside the homes. Law enforcement eventually arrived on the scene and fired into the air. They used their batons to disperse the attackers. Muslim elders and clerics also arrived to try to calm the crowds down.
Videos shared across social media showed the destruction. One of the area’s local priests, Khalid Mukhtar, said his home was one of those burned. There are 17 churches in the town, and most of them suffered damage. Law enforcement has launched an investigation into the violence.
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