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Church responds to mob attack on Christians in Pakistan

Church officials strongly condemned a recent attack on Christians in Sargodha, Pakistan, and expressed disappointment over the level of intolerance in Pakistani society.

On May 25, a violent mob attacked the homes of two Christian families in Mujahid Colony, Sargodha City, about 150 miles south of Islamabad, in Punjab province of Pakistan. The mob burned and vandalized the Christian houses and their shoe factory after Nazir Masih, a Catholic, was accused of blasphemy for allegedly desecrating pages of the Holy Quran.

Masih, 76, spent a couple of years in Saudia Arabia. After his return, he set up a shoe factory and had a successful business.

Tahir Naveed Chaudhry Advocate, a Catholic political leader from Sargodha, told CNA that around 6 a.m. on Saturday morning Ayub Gondal, one of Masih’s Muslim neighbors, accused Masih of committing blasphemy by allegedly desecrating the Quranic pages and throwing them on the road in front of the factory.

As the rumors spread, about 2,000 people from the same locality and some from nearby villages, gathered outside Masih’s house, Ifran Gill, Masih’s nephew told CNA. People also came from as far as 20 miles away.

The mob destroyed electric meters and outdoor air conditioning units, and set the Christians’ homes and shop ablaze. Eventually, they brought them out, hurled stones at them, and beat them with sticks. They tried to lynch Masih, who was seriously injured.

In a statement, Bishop Samson Shukardin, President of the Catholic Bishops Conference and Chairperson of the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP), the human rights body of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Pakistan, shared his concerns about the safety of Christians in Pakistan.

After the incident, a Christian delegation, led by Archbishop Joseph Arshad of Islamabad-Rawalpindi and Senator Tahir Khalil Sindhu (a Catholic) met Sargodha District Police Officer (DPO) Assad Malhi.

Read more at Catholic News Agency 

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