MULTAN, Pakistan (AP) — A Muslim mob on Wednesday stormed a Christian locality in Pakistan’s eastern Punjab province, burning one church, damaging two others and demolishing the house of a man after accusing him of desecrating the pages of Islam’s holy book, police said.
The attack happened in the district of Faisalabad in eastern Punjab province, local police chief Rizwan Khan said. He said the mob attacked the Christian colony after some of the Muslims living nearby accused a local Christian, Raja Amir, and his friend of desecrating pages of the Quran.
Khan said the accusations angered Muslims who had begun gathering there, and the demonstrators then started attacking multiple churches before they were dispersed by police swinging batons. Authorities are trying to restore order with help from elders and clerics in the area of Jaranwala where the attack happened, he said.
Police say they are registering cases against those who desecrated the Quran.
He said all those Muslims who were involved in the attacks on churches and the properties belonging to Christians would also be traced and arrested. “Our first priority was to save the lives of all of the Christians. We have deployed additional police at the Christian colony,” he said.
Under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, anyone found guilty of insulting Islam or Islamic religious figures can be sentenced to death. While authorities have yet to carry out a death sentence for blasphemy, just the accusation can cause riots.