International Christian Concern is reporting that 100 Christian houses and churches were set on fire on June 30 by a mob local Muslims in the village of Kasur, east of Lahore, Pakistan. Here is the report:
The riots were incited by broadcasts from local mosques. This incident is similar to a February 1997 attack when thousands of Christian houses and churches were burned and hundreds of Christians were injured.
ICC partners received the news this morning and went immediately to the scene to help injured Christians transferred to Lahore, renting two mini vans for this purpose. So far 9 burned women and 4 children have been transferred to Lahore for further medical treatment. All of them have been injured by throwing acid on them. Local police have arrived on the scene but the situation is out of control as thousands of Muslims have gathered for this purpose.
Jubilee Campaign, Release International, the Pakistan Christian Post, and others have confirmed the attack and is reporting that Christian homes are being looted of their valuables. Pakistan’s Daily Times gives more details:
Thursday, July 02, 2009
Christian families in Kasur hide from angry mobs
* Christians say blasphemy charges result of misunderstanding, argument between two boys
* DCO ‘apologises’ to Christians
By Ali Usman
LAHORE: At least 110 Christian families, almost 700 people, were forced on Tuesday night to flee Bahmniwala, a village in Kasur, after angry mobs attacked and threatened to burn their houses for allegedly committing blasphemy.
The families sought safety in the fields surrounding their village, even as local mosques urged the Muslims to unite and “teach a lesson” to the Christians, residents told Daily Times. However, locals told Daily Times the problem started when a Christian boy, Arif Mashi, was travelling on a tractor and asked a Muslim boy, Muhammad Riaz, to allow him to pass. When Riaz refused, the two quarrelled.
Following this incident, on Tuesday night, a mob attacked houses of the area’s Christian community with petrol-bombs, destroying their electricity meters and thrashing any Christians they found. On Wednesday, the Muslim community refused to communicate with the Christian community, boycotting their businesses. The Christians who returned to their homes found they had no electricity or drinking water the entire day. “Despite the presence of police, the mosques continued to urge a complete Christian boycott,” Sohail Johnson, chief coordinator of the Sharing Life Ministry, said.
Human Rights and Minority Affairs Minister Kamran Michael said he had asked officials of the Revenue Department to compile an estimate of the loss suffered by the Christian community. He said justice would be ensured, adding the government would investigate the people responsible for turning the incident into a religious issue.
A committee comprising Christian and Muslim elders of the area, led by Kasur District Coordination Officer (DCO) Abdul Jabbar Shaheen, was formed on Wednesday to look into the matter and negotiate a peace deal between the two groups. The committee has been given four days to settle the matter.
DCO: The DCO said Islam did not allow cruelties against minorities. In his capacity as the DCO, he apologised to the Christians for the treatment that was meted out to them. A fact-finding mission led by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), will travel to the area today (Thursday) to probe into the matter.
Please remember our brothers and sisters in Kasur in your prayers. We will continue to monitor this incident and update this blog as more information becomes available.