Hundreds of Pakistani Christians have taken to the streets to demand better protection after an arson attack razed a Christian district in Lahore to the ground, destroying several hundred homes.
Shop windows were stoned in Karachi and police fired into the air to disperse crowds, while in Lahore buses were attacked, and a main road was blocked while passing traffic came under a hail of projectiles.
There were also several peaceful protests throughout the province of Punjab.
Police arrested 150 suspects following the arson attack, which was sparked by accusations of blasphemy against a member of the Christian community following an argument with a Muslim man. Police say the suspected arsonists will be tried in an anti-terrorist court. The Christian is reportedly in police custody.
“It was extremely cruel, inhumane. We have been made homeless for nothing, we did nothing wrong; committed no blasphemy,” insisted one man.
Punjab’s Law Minister condemned the arsonists and promised to “bring them to the gallows”, but also condemned the protests, warning Christians they should not “take the law into their hands”.
Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are draconian and regularly spark often violent confrontations between the Sunni Muslim majority and the Christian, Shi-ite Muslim and other minorities.