Seven Christians – Including Child – Burned Alive In Pakistan Over False Charges Of Koran Desecration
Posted by Job on August 1, 2009
* Rangers called in after mob torches Christian homes
* Punjab law minister says preliminary investigation shows no desecration of holy Quran
By Ali Usman
LAHORE: The government deployed the Rangers to the town of Gojra on Saturday after at least seven Christians, including three women, were burnt alive and dozens injured following the second incident of violence against Christians in Punjab in one month.
The latest riots, which started almost a week ago following allegations that a copy of the holy Quran was defiled, escalated on Saturday as locals shouting slogans against Christians took to the streets in Christian Town, a Christian-only locality. Following the escalation, Interior Minister Rehman Malik, on directions of President Asif Ali Zardari, ordered the Punjab Rangers to reach Gojra and help the civil administration maintain law and order. Eyewitnesses said a protesting mob turned violent when armed men from Jhang reached the spot and started attacking Christian houses. Locals claimed the attackers were members of a banned organisation, adding they carried sophisticated weaponry. Emboldened by the attackers, the mob started throwing acid and petrol bombs on the houses, forcing the people to come out. A local resident said dozens were feared dead, adding the exact number could not be confirmed as several bodies were buried under debris.
Claiming the banned Sipah-e-Sahaba group was involved in the rioting, Federal Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti told the Associated Press he had directed police to ensure protection for the Christian community but they had ignored his instructions.
Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said authorities had investigated the allegation of a Holy Quran being defiled “and our initial reports say that there has not been any incident of desecration”. He said the situation had calmed down on Friday, but extremists had entered the city on Saturday and pushed people toward armed clashes. Faisalabad Commissioner Tahir Hussain told local TV channels that representatives of the two communities would meet on Saturday in an effort to calm the situation.