Four Christian women from the Farooq-e-Azam neighbourhood of Karachi, Pakistan were falsely accused of blasphemy on 19 February. Following the false accusation, a mob of enraged Muslims attacked the Christian-majority neighbourhood, leading to the displacement of Christian families.
The incident began in January, when Fayaz and Samina Riaz, a Muslim couple, were asked to vacate their rented house by their Christian landlord, Amjad Dildar. According to local Christians, the Muslim couple had been “causing trouble among the Christian families in the community” and were asked to leave.
On Tuesday 19 February, Samina Riaz accused four Christian women, including three of her landlord’s daughters, of desecrating a Koran. According to Aslam Masih, a local eyewitness, “Samina Riaz alleged Sunaina Amjad, age 22, Sophia Amjad, age 18, Soneha Amjad, age 14, and Sophia Qamar, age 30, [of] desecrating a Holy Koran. She claimed they stole a copy of the Koran 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. The mob killed pets, livestock, and damaged several Christian homes by stoning them.
Approximately 200 Christian families from Farooq-e-Azam have fled their homes and moved to safer areas within Karachi. Local police have regained control of the neighbourhood; however, members of the mob are still refusing to allow Christians to open their churches.
“After police investigated, it was revealed that Samina Riaz borrowed a copy of the Koran from Khalid Khan, a nearby shopkeeper,” Masih said. “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.”
Samina Riaz later admitted to orchestrating the incident and she and her husband, Fayaz, were arrested. However, a First Information Report has yet to be filed because negotiations between local Christian and Muslim leaders are ongoing.
In Pakistan, false accusations of blasphemy are widespread and often motivated by personal vendettas or religious hatred. In the past 30 years, more than 1,500 individuals have been accused of committing blasphemy. Religious minorities, including Christians, make up the majority of these accusations despite the fact that religious minorities make up only 3.6% of Pakistan’s total population.
Source: International Christian Concern
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