Presbyterian News Service, Reprinted from the Frontier News
Diocese of Peshawar, Church of Pakistan
LAHORE, PAKISTAN – Hundreds of people in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore attacked the city’s predominantly Christian Badami Bagh neighborhood on March 9 and set fire to homes after accusations that a Christian man had committed blasphemy against Islam’s prophet, said a police officer.
Blasphemy is a serious crime in Pakistan that can carry the death penalty but sometimes outraged residents exact their own retribution for perceived insults of Mohammed.
Pakistan is overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim and people of other faiths, including the nation’s small Christian community, are often viewed with suspicion.
The incident started on Friday when a young Muslim accused a Christian man of committing blasphemy by making offensive comments about the prophet, according to Multan Khan, a senior police officer.
On March 11, 2013, a protest rally with more than two thousand Christian participants, led by the Rev. Humphrey Sarfraz Peters, Bishop of Peshawar marched from the St. John’s Cathedral, Peshawar to the Peshawar Press Club passing through the busy Sadar Bazar.
The young, the old, men and women and children all staged a strong protest in front of the Press club and demanded justice and compensation from the rulers.
While addressing the rally in front of Peshawar Press Club, Bishop Peters said that the Pakistan government has failed to provide security to minorities, noting that two churches and 178 houses and their assests were burned in the Joseph Colony of Lahore on March 9. The riot included the alleged burning and desecration of Bibles.
Later, speaking at a separate press conference, Bishop Peters repeated his charge of insufficient security and termed the compensation package for the victims of Badami Bagh eyewash and urged the government to increase the amount to prevent recurrence of such incidents in future.
Meanwhile, hundreds of members of Christian’s community held a protest rally in front of Peshawar Press Club. The demonstrators were holding banners and placards inscribed with different slogans against the Badami Bagh incident. They blocked the busy Sher Shah Suri Road for almost an hour, which created problems for motorists.
The Church of Pakistan is a partner church of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)