More than 80 Christian homes, 19 churches vandalised in Pakistan riot: Police

AFP , Friday 18 Aug 2023

More than 80 Christian homes and 19 churches in Pakistan were vandalised when a Muslim mob rampaged through the streets over alleged blasphemy this week, the head of Punjab provincial police, Usman Anwar, said Friday.

Pastor Javed Bhatti (L) weeps beside his burnt house at a Christian neighborhood in Jaranwala on the outskirts of Faisalabad on August 17, 2023, a day after an attack by Muslim men following allegations spread that Christians had desecrated the Koran. AFP


"The events that unfolded were tragic. Violence like this can never be justified," he told AFP, adding that he will travel to the city of Jaranwala on Sunday to show solidarity with the Christian community.

Anwar said he personally interrogated two Christian brothers accused of desecrating the Koran "to avoid accusations of torture".

An additional 128 people were arrested over the violence, police said.

Hundreds of Pakistan's Christian minority fled their homes Wednesday when an angry crowd of Muslim men tore through the streets of Jaranwala, on the outskirts of the industrial city of Faisalabad, torching homes and churches.

On Friday, 3,200 churches were guarded by police across Punjab province to provide reassurance to the Christian community, Anwar said.

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