Initial Report on Riots in Lahore

Sunday, March 17, 2013

by Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent

pakistan-map2LAHORE, PAKISTAN (Worthy News)-- The Leadership for Environment And Development (LEAD) has just released an initial report concerning a case of alleged blasphemy in Pakistan that resulted in the repeated burning and destruction of Christian homes and property at the St. Joseph Colony in the neighborhood of Bedami Bagh, north of Lahore, Punjab.

Sawan Masih had been friends with a Muslim man for eight years, but while they were drinking together on March 5, they both got into an argument that eventually turned ugly.

Taking exception at being insulted by a Christian, Masih's Muslm friend decided to report him to the cleric of a local mosque for blasphemy, according to the Pakistani Christian Post.

Three days later, the mosques' loudspeakers announced that Sawan Masih had committed blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad, provoking thousands of Muslims to march towards Masih's home in Joseph Colony. On the way to his home, the mob chanted slogans, threw stones and looted any Christian household they came across.

When the police finally arrived, the Muslim protesters left as Christians were forced to evacuate the Colony with only the clothes on their backs.

Sometime later, a First Information Report for allegedly violating Section 295-C (Blasphemy) of the Pakistan Penal Code was registered at the Badami Bagh Police Station in Lahore. Armed with an FIR, the Pakistani police could arrest Masih without a warrant, but when they couldn't find him, they instead arrested and beat his father, Chaman Masih, until his son surrendered himself, according to the Post.

Even after Masih's arrest, on March 9 thousands of Muslims again marched into Joseph Colony in search of the accused. Despite a heavy police presence, the mob again began looting  hundreds of  houses. In addition, Muslims vandalized two churches, a school and a chapel, burning its furniture along with 500 Bibles. Once again, only Christian property was damaged or destroyed, including shops, motorcycles, rickshaws and utility meters, all during five hours of uninterrupted mayhem.

LEAD intends to produce a full report on these incidents within a few days.