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PAKISTAN: Faisalabad Mob Targets Christians and their Churches

On 16 August a mob of 5000 Muslim extremists rampaged through Jaranwala, a city in the Faisalabad district, reacting to allegations that two young Christian men had desecrated a copy of the Quran and insulted the prophet Muhammad. Rioters attacked Christian neighbourhoods and churches throughout the city. The mob burned or severely damaged 25 churches and 89 homes; hundreds of Christians fled either because their homes and belongings were destroyed or in fear of further attacks. The mob dispersed hours later only after the government dispatched police and soldiers into the area. The young Christian men have been arrested and charged under the district’s blasphemy laws. Blasphemy allegations are common in Pakistan and have often been used to persecute Christians. Anyone found guilty of blasphemy could be sentenced to death, and just the accusation of blasphemy can often incite mob violence.

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