Christian areas attacked in Pakistan

Thursday, June 30, 2005

June 30, 2005 (Voice of the Martyrs) -- Sources have told The Voice of the Martyrs that at 10 p.m. on Tuesday, June 28, Christian homes in three areas near Peshawar, Pakistan were attacked by a radical Muslim mob. VOM contacts are currently investigating, and more details of the story should be available soon.

The attacks came after a Christian man was accused earlier that day of burning pages with Koranic verses written on them.

VOM sources say that the man, Yousaf Masih, is more than 60 years old and has worked for almost two decades as a sweeper for the Pakistani military. His most recent assignment was cleaning in the home of a military officer, a major. Yesterday the major asked him to clean the office at the major’s home. During the cleaning, he came across a bag of “rough papers,” and the major told Yousaf to take the papers outside and burn them.

Yousaf is illiterate, and would have no way of knowing what was written on the papers he had been told to burn. Other workers saw the papers and said that Yousaf was burning pages from the Koran.

After hearing their accusations, Yousaf ran away and went to his home, in the Lama Veera area of Nowshera, east of Peshawar, in Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier. At 3 p.m. yesterday, police came to the home and arrested Yousaf. Insulting Islam, the Prophet Mohammed or the Koran can be punishable with death under Pakistan’s harsh anti-blasphemy laws. Following the arrest, a group of angry Muslims came to the home and began to beat Yousaf’s three sons.

Radical Muslims returned to the area at about 10 p.m. last night, and burnt an estimated total of 200 houses in Lama Veera, CMH and Saran. Many houses were looted by members of the mob, who stole TVs, refrigerators and other items. The mob beat Yousaf’s three sons, and his brother, Yaqoob. Police have reportedly arrested 16 people involved in the attacks. A Hindu temple was also attacked, as apparently the mob at first believed Yousaf was a Hindu.

Large police forces have surrounded all three areas in an effort to restore order. The Voice of the Martyrs workers are en route to the area, and will evaluate the immediate needs of the Christians there who have lost their homes. Reportedly Christians are currently in fear of further attacks.