Muslim mobs upset over an alleged derogatory comment about the prophet of Islam burned down more than 180 Christian-owned houses and shops and at least two church buildings here on Saturday (March 9) after authorities told police to "let them vent their grief and anger," officials said.
Lahore's impoverished Joseph Colony looked like a war-ravaged town by Saturdaynight. There were no reports of casualties, but the site was reminiscent of the destruction in Gojra in 2009, when eight Christians were burned alive, 100 houses looted and 50 homes set ablaze after a blasphemy accusation.
"The police let our homes burn and be vandalized … a heavy price to pay when you are a Christian in Pakistan," an area resident identified only as Shaukat told Morning Star NewsSaturday night as he walked dingy streets littered with burnt furniture and appliances, smoke billowing from small houses while firemen continued to put out blazes. "The entire locality was left to the mobs just because a Christian happened to get involved in a dispute with a Muslim." more >>
In a rare instance in Pakistan, a judge granted bail to a pastor accused of blaspheming Islam because the complainant admitted that he had mistakenly accused him, attorneys said.
Karma Patras, a 55-year-old pastor of Bado Malhi, Sangla Hill, had been languishing in Sheikhupura District Jail since October after preaching on Christ's sacrifice at a funeral attended manly by Christians. Some Muslims present thought he was speaking against the Islamic animal slaughter ritual observed at the time, and Patras was confused when police showed up at his home later that day (Oct. 13) and arrested him on charges of defaming Islam.
Victims of false accusations of blasphemy in Pakistan usually spend months in jail without trial, and then many more months after conviction; if charges are dismissed, it does not usually happen until cases reach appeal, as most trial judges cannot withstand the pressure of furious Islamic extremists. Retraction of an accusation is also rare in Pakistan. more >>
The murderers of a 65-year-old Christian in Pakistan are not likely to face justice in this world.
A miasma of political and religious dynamics makes it unlikely. A Pakistani court has ordered a judicial inquiry into the death Niyamat Masih, who died in police custody from torture. Officers tortured him to extract information about whereabouts of a Muslim woman who had eloped with his son.
The physical examination done only a day before Masih's death, and an autopsy report, show possible connivance between police and the medical authorities that issued these reports. Both reports fail to mention marks of violence, though photos taken after Masih's death clearly show signs of torture. more >>
A "million-man march" led by a moderate Islamic cleric Muhammad Tahirul Qadri began from Lahore Sunday and headed towards Islamabad, calling for a caretaker administration with a role for the judiciary and the military to ensure election reforms ahead of an upcoming vote.
A big crowd of supporters and workers of Qadri's non-governmental organization, Minhajul Quran International (MQI), gathered on Sunday afternoon in Lahore, carrying the national flag, according to The Express Tribune. The number of protesters, which stood at about 2,000 on Sunday, is expected to reach millions as the march reaches Islamabad on Monday, according to MQI.
Qadri is leading the protest after the government refused to comply with his demand for electoral reforms by Thursday. Qadri insists that the composition of the caretaker government should be decided with the input of the judiciary and the military, according to CNN. more >>
Taliban-linked militants have killed 103 people in Pakistan on Thursday in three major bombings, marking one of the deadliest terrorist attacks in recent months.
Officials said that the heaviest attack occurred in the city of Quetta, where 69 people were killed while another 69 were injured at a blast at a billiard hall, The Associated Press reported.
Another bomb blast at a Sunni Islam mosque in the Northern city of Mingora killed 22 people while injuring 70, and yet another blast in a commercial area in Quetta targeting paramilitary soldiers killed 12 people and wounded 40 others. more >>
Malala Yousafzai, the 15-year-old Pakistani education advocate who was shot in the head by Taliban members for attending school, has been discharged from the British hospital that has been treating her since Oct. 15.
The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham released a statement on Friday, Jan. 4 saying Malala will return to the hospital "in late January or early February to undergo cranial reconstructive surgery as part of her long-term recovery," according to the Los Angeles Times.
The Los Angeles Times also quoted Dr. David Rosser, the hospital's medical director, as saying that Yousafzai "has worked hard with the people caring for her to make excellent progress in her recovery." more >>