Blasphemyâ€™ backlash: 50 Christian families flee Amer Sidhu. By Aayan Ali and Ali Waqar
12 Sep 2005
LAHORE: Some 50 Christian families have fled Waheed Park in Chungi Amer Sidhu fearing a backlash from the Muslim community after a Christian was arrested for alleged blasphemy.
Factory Area police registered a blasphemy case against Younis Masih, 40, on Saturday night after he allegedly made derogatory remarks about the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) at a Qawali, arranged by another Christian, on Friday night. Following the incident, Younis was beaten up by local Christians who wanted him to apologise, and then by an angry mob of Muslims, but he refused to take back his comments, according to witnesses.
On Saturday night, some 200 protestors carrying sticks surrounded Factory Area police station demanding a case be registered against Younis, and refused to leave until they were shown copies of the FIR.
By Sunday, some 50 Christian families had fled the area.
Muslim community leaders told Daily Times they had made repeated assurances of peace to the Christians, saying they only wanted Younis punished. They admitted that some Muslims had damaged Younis's house, but said the damage was minor. "We have made repeated announcements in the mosques that people should control their emotions," said Tariq Mahmood, a local leader. "We also assured the Christian community that they would be safe here, but they left."
He said people were much calmer now and community leaders had managed to disperse a small protest against the incident on Sunday morning. However, he said the whole community was determined to see Younis get punished under the law. "If the police try to hush up the investigation, we will not keep quiet." The police sent Younis to Kot Lakhpat Jail on Sunday morning, after he confessed to the investigation officer of the case, Sub Inspector Abdul Rasheed, said Karamat, the duty officer at Factory Area police station. He said Younis would not have been safe in the lock-up at the police station. The investigation officer was not available for comment. Earlier, police told Daily Times that Younis's wife had shown up at Factory Area police station with tattered clothes saying a group of Muslims looking for her husband had done this to her. The police said they would investigate her complaint as well.