Published: 00:00 GMT Standard Time - Tuesday 03 November 2009
Pakistan: Seven Family Members Killed in Anti-Christian Riots
On Saturday 1 August a mob of more than 800 Muslims raided a Christian settlement in the town of Gojra, Pakistan. Homes were looted and at least 50 houses were burned down, as the attackers threw petrol bombs and fired indiscriminately.
Minhas Hameed’s 75-year old father was the first victim when he was shot in the head. Hameed rushed his father to hospital, while the rest of his family stayed in the house, thinking they would be safe there. But as the mob began to torch the homes of local Christians, six members of Hameed’s family were burned to death. “I have lost more than half of my family, my house – everything!” says Hameed, who is still haunted by the images of his house and community in flames.
These attacks were part of a recent spate of violence against Christians in Pakistan. Two days earlier some 50 Christian homes were destroyed by Muslims in the nearby village of Korian after rumours spread that a Qur’an had been burned during a Christian wedding ceremony. It appears that a flammable chemical, normally available only to the military, was used. Muslims also lay down in front of the fire engines to prevent them reaching the blazing houses. More than a quarter of the Christians of Korian were left homeless.
Earlier still, on Tuesday 30 June, around 600 Muslims used petrol bombs to attack at least 117 Christian homes in Bahmani Walla, another village in Punjab. Many properties were damaged by fire, waterpumps sabotaged and electricity supplies cut off. Acid was thrown at some Christians as they fled, leaving nine women and four children scarred. This attack seems to have been prompted by false charges of blasphemy laid against local Christians. Barnabas has sent aid to the victims of all three incidents.