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Police intervene to stop Muslim mob burning Pakistani Christians’ homes following “blasphemy” allegation

South Asia

Police intervene to stop Muslim mob burning Pakistani Christians’ homes following “blasphemy” allegation

Police intervened to stop a Muslim mob setting fire to the homes of Christians last month in the Pakistani city of Gujranwala in the Punjab. The attack took place on 2 August after a 25-year-old Christian was accused of sending “blasphemous” text messages.

A phone registered to 25-year-old Christian Farhan Aziz was used to send a number of allegedly “blasphemous” text messages. Although Farhan has admitted purchasing the phone, he said it was not in his possession and denied sending the text messages.

He was arrested by police and charged under Section 295-C of the Pakistani Penal Code, “defiling the name of Muhammad”, which it a capital offence. To date, no executions have been carried out under the 295-C “blasphemy” law, although a number of Christians and others are on death row.

After news of the allegations against Farhan spread, an angry mob armed with steel rods and petrol cans congregated in a Christian area of the city, but police intervened to prevent an attack on Christians’ homes. Despite the action by police, Christian families fled. At the time of writing, Farhan remains in police custody.