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Collective Attacks of Pakistani Christians Continue Unabated

By ICC Staff

 05/20/2011 Pakistan (International Christian Concern)-Christians living in the city of Sheikhupura, Pakistan, are on edge after several Muslim men armed with guns abducted Mariam, 17, days after forcibly taking four other members of her family. Muslims took the family hostage after Sajjid, Mariam’s brother, eloped with a Muslim girl.

Although the abductors released Mariam’s four relatives after torturing them for one day, they are threatening to kill Mariam unless the Muslim girl that eloped is returned. Mariam’s family does not know the whereabouts of the Muslim girl, as their attempts to reach Sajjid have failed.

The abductors have also threatened to accuse the family of blasphemy if they report the abduction to the police.

Following the abductions and threats, close to 80 Christian families living in the area were gripped with terror and are seeking ways to save their lives.

Accusations of blasphemy are the most effective means of inciting mob violence against Christians in Pakistan. Allegations that Christians have insulted the Muslim prophet Muhammad or desecrated the Qur’an tend to mobilize Muslim mobs that attacker Christians.

In the past, such accusations have led to the murder of Christians, destruction of their property and displacement from their homes. In August 2009 in Gojra, eleven Christians were killed and 80 homes were burned to the ground after Muslims falsely accused them of desecrating the Qu’ran.

On April 30, a Muslim mob estimated at 4,000, attacked Christian properties and forced 3,000 Christians to leave their homes in Gujranwala after falsely accusing a Christian leader of burning the Qur’an. On May 2, Christian families living in Chichawatni fled their homes after a mentally ill Christian, Barbar Masih, was accused of blasphemy.

The continuing threat of mob violence against Christians has worsened the already-fragile living situations of Christians in Pakistan. Pakistan’s Christian minorities are forced to live under extremely difficult situations due to the injustice they suffer at the hands of Muslim mobs,” said Jonathan Racho, ICC’s Regional Manager for South Asia.