200 Christian families from a predominately Christian neighbourhood in Karachi where displaced by a violent mob after 4 women falsely accused of blasphemy. The accuser and her husband have been arrested but Christians are being pressure not file an FIR.
An angry mob of Muslim displaced 200 Christian families from their homes in a majority Christian neighbourhood – the Farooq-e-Azam neighborhood of Karachi, Pakistan – after a spurious blasphemy accusation on 19 February, 2019, against four Christian women that was later proven false.
Fayaz and Samina Riaz, a Muslim couple living in that community, were asked by their Christian landlord, Amjad Dildar to leave their rental home, because the couple had been “causing trouble among the Christian families in the community”.
On Tuesday, 19 February, Samina Riaz started her hate campaign against her former landlords, and exploited sensitivities surrounding blasphemy to wage her dubious ends, accusing four young Christian women between the ages of 14 and 30 of desecrating a Quran. Three of the accused were her landlord’s daughters.
After all the damage to the community was done, and four innocent women endured the slander of being blasphemy-accused, Samina Riaz admitted to fabricating the incident and she was arrested along with her husband, Fayaz.
There has been significant delay in the filing of a First Information Report (FIR) because the local Christian and Muslim communities are currently negotiating outside of the legal system. However, this pattern of bullying Christians out of their legal rights to be protected by the law, and for these attacks not to be enacted against them is a common tactic.
Aslam Masih, a local eyewitness reported:
“Samina Riaz alleged Sunaina Amjad, age 22, Sophia Amjad, age 18, Soneha Amjad, age 14, and Sophia Qamar, age 30, [of] desecrating a Holy Quran. She claimed they stole a copy of the Quran and ruined it by submerging it into a basin of dirty water. ”
As news of the accusation spread, a mob of enraged Muslims gathered in Farooq-e-Azam and attacked several Christian properties, including Amjad Dildar’s house and a nearby church.
Slaughtering livestock and domestic pets, the mob hurled stones at several Christian homes and damaged their properties.
Upward of 200 Christian families from Farooq-e-Azamwere forced to flee their homes and have relocated to areas within Karachi that are considered less dangerous. Local police are said to have brought control the neighbourhood under control; but, vigilantes are blocking Christians form opening their churches.
Masih told aid group International Christian Concern:
“After police investigated, it was revealed that Samina Riaz borrowed a copy of the Quran from Khalid Khan, a nearby shopkeeper, ”
“When she reached home, she threw it into a water tub in the restroom. She purposely alleged the Christian women of desecrating the Holy Book of Islam. ”
In December an Assemblies of God Church was attacked in Karachi.
Wilson Chowdhry said:
“There have been an escalation of attacks on churches in Pakistan in the last year, not only by criminal gangs seeking to grab land, but by neighbours in local areas who believe Christians are a communal source of defilement.
“Property disputes like this one that has arisen against this Christian landlord, and the blockading of people from returning to their homes is an act of ceasing territory and this making less room for religious minorities underscored the marginalisation Christians face.
“Despite the supposed protections of the constitution, Pak-Christians continue to suffer from the hate of the majority in a country where they make up only 1.6% of the population.”
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