Pakistan police: Reports about Christian-Muslim tension in blasphemy allegations are exaggerated

International media have reported that a Muslim mob attacked a Christian village in Pakistan after a young man was accused of blasphemy, but the Pakistani police deny that Christian-Muslim tension in the village exists.

Members of the Pakistani Christian community hold placards and wooden crosses during a demonstration to condemn the death of a Christian couple in a village in Punjab province on Tuesday, in Islamabad, November 5, 2014. | Reuters/Faisal Mahmood

According to reports, local Catholic janitor Imran Masih was accused of watching an anti-Muslim video on YouTube, prompting the local imam to initiate a boycott on the whole Catholic community in the Chak 44 village in the Mandi Bahauddin district. Muslim villagers also demanded that the Christian villagers either convert to Islam or leave.

Although no formal complaint was filed against Masih, local Muslims reportedly beat and locked him up on April 19. Villagers helped rescue him and he has gone into hiding after a Muslim businessman announced a reward amounting to around US$10,000 for Masih's death.

Fearing mob violence, some of the villagers have fled. Chak 44 is now being patrolled by intelligence officers in plainclothes to prevent any potential violent incident against the Christian villagers.

Since reports about a fatwa against Masih surfaced, there have been conflicting reports on the true situation in the village. The World Watch Monitor claims reports of a Muslim mob attacking the Christian villagers are mostly exaggerated.

Police say there are no tensions between the Muslims and Christians in Chak 44, except on May 6 when they received a call from Christians asking for security. Christian resident Amir Yaqoob reportedly phoned the police after Muslim resident Dr. Ashraf Faizi told him about a plan to burn the houses of the Christians.

However, a police officer said Dr. Faizi was only spreading false rumors about a plan to attack Christians after their Friday prayers. District police officer Yasir Gondal echoed the same sentiment, saying the rumors circulating online are just exaggerations.

"Imran Masih is innocent," said Gondal. "Human rights organizations are visiting the area as Christians sleep peacefully in their houses."

In addition, Gondal said an interfaith committee is working with the village elders to solve the problem.

Inside Christian Daily