Police in central Pakistan have arrested dozens of men a day after a mob burned a Christian area in Punjab province over alleged blasphemy. The incident has outraged Christians and civil society activists, who took to the streets on Sunday to demand effective protection of minorities and reforms in the controversial blasphemy laws of majority-Muslim Pakistan.
Pakistani authorities say that Saturday’s mob attack in the provincial capital, Lahore, was prompted by allegations that a resident of the Christian colony made offensive comments about Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.
Under pressure from local Muslim clerics, police registered a case and took the alleged blasphemer into custody on Friday for investigation. But those actions did not forestall the attack on the Christian area the next day.
Witnesses say hundreds of radical Muslims armed with stones, clubs and sticks ransacked and burned the entire locality of more than 150 houses. There were no casualties because Christian families fled the area fearing for their safety.
In response to the attack, Christians and civil society groups took to the streets on Sunday in several of Pakistan’s cities to demand effective protection of the minority community.
A rights activist at a rally in Islamabad, Tahira Abdullah, said reforms are needed to stop misuse of the blasphemy law…