Protesters demonstrate against religious violence in Lahore
A Muslim man burned alive this week in Chani Goth in Punjab province for allegedly desecrating the Quran has raised religious tensions in the region that in recent weeks has seen multiple religiously motivated attacks.
Ghulam Abbas was arrested this week but was dragged out of his cell yesterday by an angry mob and set on fire at a crossroads in Chani Goth in Punjab province.
Local media reports said eight police officers were injured and four police vehicles vandalized by the mob.
Father Samuel Raphael of St. Dominic’s Church in Bahawalpur, 60 kilometers from Chani Goth, said the attack was a sign of growing lawlessness and religious intolerance that had many Christians in the area concerned for their safety.
“This signifies an inhuman society that is growing intolerant at a dangerous pace. The controversial blasphemy laws were specifically designed to handle such issues, but people are now taking matters into their own hands,” he said.
“Some say Abbas was mentally ill, but he never got a chance to prove his innocence,” the priest added.
The day before the burning of Abbas, a mob beat another Muslim man in Faisalabad for allegedly uttering derogatory remarks about the Prophet Mohammad. Police eventually rescued the man, but the mob reportedly blocked a road and chanted for the death of the accused man.
Two Muslims and a Christian, all accused of blasphemy, have been killed this year, according to the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) within the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Pakistan, and 88 people including 64 Muslims and 17 Christians have been victimized by blasphemy laws from January last year through May 2012.
“Police are becoming conscious of the misuse of these allegations, which are still a low priority for the government. The lives of human rights defenders are under threat due to increasingly aggressive attitudes,” said Peter Jacob, executive secretary of the NCJP.
“The chance is perhaps lost to form public opinion against blasphemy laws.”
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