Upset over an alleged blasphemy incident, a mob in Lahore destroyed at least 50 Christian homes over the weekend. Such violence against religious minorities is rarely punished in Pakistan.
Christians and civil society activists across Pakistan took to the roads on Sunday demanding government protection for the rising persecution of religious minority communities, which make up less than 5 percent of the country.
The protests come a day after hundreds of Muslims rampaged inside a Lahore neighborhood of at least 50 Christian homes. The rioters apparently were outraged over accusations that a local Christian from the area had committed blasphemy. The accused blasphemer had already been arrested the night before, and the Christians in the area fled the same night in expectation of violence.
The police have arrested dozens in connection to the rioting. But campaigners for religious minorities here note that arrests after past incidents have almost never led to punishments, and the blasphemy law that enables communal unrest remain on the books.
“This current government passed many constitutional amendments during the last five years but did not touch the blasphemy law, even though everyone in the Parliament was on board for the revisions in the Constitution,” says Nadeem Anthony, a lawyer in Lahore who defends those facing a possible death sentence under the law.
Three of Mr. Anthony’s relatives living in the Lahore neighborhood were displaced by the destruction.