Muslim lynch mob ‘chases Christians from homes’ demanding they convert to Islam
Dengan Semangat Menyakiti, Arak-arakan Massa Memburu Para Penganut Kristen dari Rumah Mereka dan Menuntut Mereka Masuk Islam
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CHRISTIANS in Pakistan have been driven from their homes by a lynch mob of Muslim extremists after Imams issued a fatwa against one of their number over a Facebook video that appeared on his news feed.
The small community of Christians in a remote village were forced to run for their lives after a crowd of more than 1000 people gathered outside their homes and demanded they convert to Islam.
Campaigners say three quarters of the 300-strong population have now had to flee and are starving in the countryside without food or water, adding that they are only alive at all thanks to the intervention of riot police.
Meanwhile an Islamic death sentence decree known as a fatwa has been issued against the young man at the centre of the storm, with Imams ordering that he be brought before them and burnt alive for insulting the Koran.
Tensions first boiled over after a Muslim man accused his Christian friend, who worked as a hospital cleaner, of insulting the Prophet Mohammed as the pair scrolled through Facebook together at work on April 15.
A video, apparently posted by a prominent foreign politician, then autoplayed on the Christian man’s news feed, sending his Muslim friend into a fit of hysteria.
The situation was exacerbated by the fact that the Christian man, a 25-year-old called Imran Masih, had just told his best pal that he had fallen in love with a Muslim girl.
According to reports after showing his friend, who was called Bilal, pictures of the girl he left his phone with him to respond to an emergency.
But when he returned he found his pal’s attitude had significantly changed, and he started yelling at him and accused him of blasphemy and insulting the Prophet.
When Imran asked what he had done, the friend reportedly showed him the video which had appeared on his Facebook feed, to which he responded that it was not posted by him and that he had never seen it.
Two other men turned up at the scene and along with Bilal they begun to severely beat Imran, whose life was spared when a duty doctor was called to the scene and split them up.
The doctor asked Imran to smash his phone and ask for forgiveness, which the terrified Christian immediately did.
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But rumours quickly began flying around the hospital, in the town of Mandi Bahaudin in north east Pakistan, that he and his fellow Christians were blasphemers.
Islamic scholars in the city immediately issued a fatwa against the young man, whilst a local businessman put a bounty of 1.6 million rupees (£10,400) on his head. A local mosque has also put out a bounty, with a committee member pledging to hunt down Imran "at all costs".
As a result, last Friday a lynch mob of more than 1,000 angry men turned up outside the Christian enclave in the village of Chak where he lived, and were only prevented from attacking and killing the community after Government riot police intervened and drove them away.
Since then it is reported the entire Muslim community in the village have begun boycotting the 45 Christian families, refusing to buy from or sell to them and threatening to attack their homes and churches.
Imran and his family have now been forced to go into hiding whilst local Imams attempt to level criminal charges of blasphemy against them, and those Christians still left in Chak say they now fear for their lives.
Campaigner Naveed Masih, an officer with the British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA), visited local politicians after the mob had dispersed to try to secure more protection for the community.
He said: "People are extremely frightened. Muslims have stopped trading with Christians and ignore and abuse them.
“Threats have been received by several people that the community will be attacked and many of the 300 Christian villagers have already left their homes to stay with relatives.
“Those that have bravely stayed behind are totally demoralised and terrified, while those that have left fear that all their property will be looted.
“Christian leaders have been told they must bring Imran to the Imams so he can be burned alive, or face being torched themselves. This is a community that is bereft of hope."
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Wilson Chowdhry, chairman of the BPCA, added: “This latest attack though initially thwarted by police is an example of how easy it is for Muslim friends of Christians to turn against them.
“It would seem that a petty jealousy or vengeance over the love of a Muslim girl for an untouchable Christian has once again become a trigger for a violent mob.
“Sadly a terrorised community will have to undergo a period of huge instability and anxiety due to the fomenting of hatred of local mosques, a practice that is allowed to cause division unfettered."
A blog post of the Release International website, which monitors instances of persecution of Christians around the world, said that many of the community were struggling for basic amenities like food and water after being forced from their homes.
It said: “Please pray for our brothers and sisters in Chak village, Punjab in Pakistan. They’re living in fear after local Muslims accused a Christian of blasphemy.
“Friends of Imran, who is a cleaner, say he is illiterate and could not have mastered the browser on his phone.
“Last Friday a large mob had gathered outside the mosque, apparently poised to attack Christians. Police dispersed the crowd but things remain tense. By Sunday, three-quarters of Chak’s 45 Christian families had fled.
“Those who stayed now have no food. Release partners are supporting Chak Christians and have called on police to step up security to protect them.”
The shocking incident is just the latest example of persecution of Christians in Muslim majority countries, both in Pakistan and around the world.
Earlier this week Express.co.uk reported the fears of Christians in the Pakistani city of Lahore that their churches could be destroyed by officials to make way for a new underground line.
And in Islamist Turkey the Government has seized all the Christian churches in one city and declared them ‘state property’ in a move which outraged human rights campaigners around the world.