It all started with an unsubstantiated rumor last week that three Christian youths had burned a copy of the Koran. The youths denied it, but–nonetheless–Islamic militants took it upon themselves to punish Christians living in a colony in Pakistan while the police stood by and did nothing.
Here’s an excerpt from the story in The London Times:
Paramilitary troops patrolled the streets of a town in eastern Pakistan yesterday after Muslim radicals burned to death eight members of a Christian family, raising fears of violence spreading to other areas.
Hundreds of armed supporters of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, an outlawed Islamic militant group, burned dozens of Christian homes in Gojra over the weekend after allegations that a copy of the Koran had been defiled.
The mob opened fire indiscriminately, threw gas bombs and looted houses as thousands of frightened Christians ran for safety. “They were shouting anti-Christian slogans and attacked our houses,” Rafiq Masih, a resident of the predominantly Christian colony, said. Residents said that police stood aside while the mob went on the rampage. “We kept begging for protection, but police did not take action,” Masih said.
Police and local officials said that at least eight people, including four women and a child, were killed in the fires. Two others died of gunshot wounds. Residents said that the casualties were much higher; one claimed that the number of dead could be in the dozens as many bodies were still buried under the rubble. Shahbaz Bhatti, the Minister for Minorities, said that 40 Christian homes were torched in rioting. He said there was no truth to allegations that a Koran had been defiled, and accused the police of ignoring his appeal to provide protection to Christians.
And some Christians in our country are upset because–at church yesterday–the music was too loud, the preacher went too long, the air-conditioning wasn’t working, one of the servers wasn’t wearing a coat, or someone took their favorite parking space.
Let’s pray for our brothers and sisters in Pakistan who are dealing with real and truly meaningful problems.