Mob attacks churches in Pakistan over allegations of blasphemy

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An enraged mob in Pakistan vandalised churches in a Christian neighbourhood over allegations of blasphemy, officials said on Wednesday. Hundreds of people rioted in a Christian neighbourhood in the city of Jaranwala in Punjab province, security sources said. According to the sources, the violence was sparked by two Christian men accused by the rioters of having desecrated the Koran. “The situation is tense and we are trying to defuse it,” said an official familiar with the incident. Videos shared on social media showed hundreds of men gathered in front of a church and chanting slogans against the community.
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Pakistan’s Bishop Azad Marshall called on the police to act. “As I write this message, a church building is being burned down,” Marshall wrote on the online platform X, previously known as Twitter. “Bibles have been desecrated and Christians have been tortured and harassed because they were falsely accused of violating the Holy Quran.”,he said. Blasphemy is a sensitive issue in Pakistan, with those accused often targeted by extremist Muslim groups. In some cases, people have been gunned down, burned alive or bludgeoned to death.
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In one of such incidents in 2020, a Pakistani-U.S. citizen was shot and killed inside a courtroom during his trial. In 2021, a Sri Lankan national was tortured to death over blasphemy allegations. (dpa/NAN)

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