Pakistan, Lahore News – Hundreds of protesters took to the streets across the country on Sunday, demanding better protection after a Christian neighbourhood was torched in the city of Lahore.
Police fired into the air in Lahore and the country’s largest city, Karachi, to try to disperse protesters furious at the arson attack, which left over 100 homes burned.
The protesters smashed the windows of buses and clashed with baton-wielding police in Lahore, near the Saint Joseph Colony neighbourhood that was set on fire.
A protest in another Christian neighbourhood of the city turned violent when protesters blocked the main road and attacked vehicles, police said.
In Karachi, protesters threw stones at shop windows.
“We tried to disperse them peacefully … They started throwing stones at police, resulting in several officers receiving injuries,” senior Lahore police official Rai Tahir told Reuters.
Elsewhere throughout Punjab province, Christians held small, peaceful protests.
Punjab’s Law Minister condemned the protests: “We will bring the culprits (arsonists) to the gallows … But Christians should not take the law into their hands”.
Tahir said more than 150 Muslims were arrested in Lahore of suspicion of torching the homes, and will be tried in anti-terrorism courts. Hundreds of residents had fled their homes, escaping the violence.
Police said two men, one Christian and one Muslim, argued in Lahore on Friday, leading to the Christian being accused of blasphemy. He is reportedly in police custody. Agencies