Pakistan Grants Bail to Muslims Accused of Anti-Christian Attacks

Thirteen Pakistani Muslims accused of anti-Christian attacks in the eastern city of Gojra were granted bail, reported a Christian human rights group.

Included in the group were radical clerics who incited a mob attack that resulted in the deaths of 11 followers of Christ and the burning of over 40 believers' homes in Gojra, noted International Christian Concern.

Jonathan Racho, ICC's regional manager for Africa and the Middle East, said the group condemns the decision by the Lahore High Court to release those responsible for the "carnage" in the Christian town where about 2,000 families reside.

"Pakistan has repeatedly failed to bring perpetrators of violence against Christians to justice, and this latest decision helps to perpetuate a culture of impunity in Pakistan," Racho charged.

The government should arrest all individuals responsible for the attacks and repeal blasphemy laws that are "fueling" the anti-Christian violence, Racho said.

In early August, hundreds of angry Muslims attacked Christian homes and churches in Gojra – a remote village about 100 miles west of Lahore in Punjab province – following an unconfirmed allegation that a Christian had desecrated the Quran.

Media reports indicated that women and children were among those killed by the burning of homes. Some were reportedly locked in while the mob torched their house.

The Gojra incident was particularly frustrating to Christians because it was the third attack on the tiny community in Pakistan within a one-month time span.

In late June, a Muslim mob numbering about 600 attacked Christians in a district near the India-Pakistan border. They destroyed several houses and injured Christian residents. The June attack was also sparked by alleged blasphemy by a Christian.

World Council of Churches General Secretary the Rev. Dr. Samuel Kobia recently commented that the violence against Pakistani Christians "reconfirms the fear that the government is constantly failing to protect its citizens."

Kobia also expressed concern that the blasphemy laws in Pakistan are being used as an excuse to "victimize" the minority Christian population.

Open Doors, a ministry working with persecuted churches, ranks Pakistan as No. 13 in its list of countries with the worst Christian persecution.