An angry Muslim mob in Pakistan has displaced about 200 Christian families from their homes after four Christian women were falsely accused of blasphemy. International Christian Concern (ICC) reports that the events took place in Pakistan’s fifth-most populated city of Karachi. A Muslim woman named Samina Riaz accused four Christian women who ranged in age from 14 to 30 of desecrating the Quran, according to an eyewitness. The accusation was made after Riaz and her husband were asked by their Christian landlord, Amjad Dildar, to vacate a home they were renting because the Muslim couple was “causing trouble among the Christian families in the community.”
Riaz accused three of Dildar’s daughters and another Christian woman of damaging a copy of the Quran, Islam’s holy book. Those accused of blasphemy are 22-year-old Sunaina Amjad, 18-year-old Sophia Amjad, 14-year-old Soneha Amjad, and 30-year-old Sophia Qamar. “She claimed they stole a copy of the Quran and ruined it by submerging it into a basin of dirty water,” local witness Aslam Masih told ICC. News of the accusation spread quickly, which reportedly inspired a mob of enraged Muslim locals to gather in the neighbourhood. According to the witness, the mob attacked several Christian properties in the area and a local church.
Dildar’s home was among those damaged by stones. The armed group also killed pets and livestock. In all, about 200 Christian families fled the neighbourhood in search of safety in other areas of the city. Masih said that after a police investigation, it was learned that Riaz had borrowed a copy of the Quran from a nearby shopkeeper and submerged the book underwater in the restroom of her home. Riaz and her husband were later arrested with Riaz admitting that she orchestrated the whole thing. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the 4 Christian women who were falsely accused and the Christian community involved,” ICC spokesperson William Stark said in a statement.
The accusation made by Riaz highlights how Pakistan’s widely criticized blasphemy laws are often abused by majority Muslims as a way to settle personal scores with religious minorities. Human rights activists have long called for the blasphemy laws to be abolished. Those convicted under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws can be subject to the death penalty or life in prison. Although no person accused of blasphemy has yet been executed, Christians in the past have been brutally killed as a result of societal violence stirred by blasphemy accusations against them. “The abuse of Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws must be curbed,” Stark said in his statement.
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