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05/25/2019 Pakistan (International Christian Concern) – On May 15, a Christian family living in the Arif Wala Tehsil District of Punjab was attacked by a mob after they were falsely accused of committing blasphemy against Islam. False accusations of blasphemy are common in Pakistan and are primarily used to settle personal scores or incite religious hatred.

According to the British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA), the incident started when Syed Bashir, a local Muslim, engaged in a phone conversation outside the home of Naveed Masih, a 25-year-old Christian. Bashir began shouting and using foul language in his phone conversation and Masih requested Bashir move away from his home if he would continue shouting.

BPCA reports that Bashir responded to Masih by calling him a derogatory slur often used to denote Christians are untouchable in Pakistan. This led to a physical altercation between Masih and Bashir which was broken up by Masih’s family.

At around 7 p.m. that evening, the local mosque announced through its public loud speakers that the Christian family had committed blasphemy against Islam and needed to be driven out of the community. It is likely that Bashir falsely accused Masih of blasphemy in order to incite mob violence and get revenge for the fight earlier in the day.

Following the announcement, a mob of enraged Muslims gathered and attacked the homes of the seven Christian families. Two Christian families sought shelter in the home of a moderate Muslim lawyer, who called the police. When the police arrived, the mob was dispersed and five Christian men were taken into protective custody.

To date, no blasphemy accusations have been formally charged against the Christians. However, the situation in the village remains tense.

For interviews, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: [email protected].