100 Muslims arrested for attacking 2 Christian men on allegations of desecrating Quran in Pakistan

LAHORE, Pakistan (AP) — Police in eastern Pakistan arrested more than 100 Muslim men and charged them under anti-terrorism laws for attacking a Christian father and son over allegations they desecrated pages of Islam’s holy book, officials said Monday.

The mob went on a rampage Saturday after locals said they saw burnt pages of the Quran outside the two Christian men's house and accused the son of being behind it, setting their house and shoemaking factory on fire in the city of Sargodha in Punjab province, said senior police officer Assad Ijaz Malhi. They also attacked the son.

Malhi said police forces rescued the two wounded men and transported them to a hospital where they were in stable condition, and that at least 100 men were arrested following multiple police raids. Authorities were chasing others who may have been involved in the attack, he said.

The blaze fully incinerated the factory and parts of the house, residents and the police said.

Punjab police said it beefed up security at churches.

Police released details about the incident in a statement on Monday, saying officers received a distress call from Sargodha city informing them that a person in a Christian community had desecrated the Quran and a mob besieged his house to harm him and his family.

The district police chief, accompanied by others, arrived at the Mujahid Colony, where the incident happened, and “the situation was highly volatile, with the mob demanding that the alleged blasphemer be handed over to them to face their wrath,” the statement said.

Police rescued 10 Christians who had been surrounded by a mob and transported them to a secure location, it said.

Several officers were wounded while rescuing the accused and his family, police said.

Malhi said investigations were ongoing to determine the extent of the damage.

Blasphemy accusations are common in Pakistan and under the country’s blasphemy laws, anyone found guilty of insulting Islam or Islamic religious figures can be sentenced to death. While no one has been executed on such charges, often just an accusation can cause riots and incite mobs to violence, lynchings and killings.

The latest violence brought back memories of one of the worst attacks on Christians in Pakistan in August 2023, when thousands of people set churches and homes of Christians on fire in Jaranwala, a district in Punjab province.

Muslim residents at the time also claimed they saw two men desecrating the Quran.


Ahmed reported from Islamabad.

Babar Dogar And Munir Ahmed, The Associated Press