March 10, 2013 -- New York -- AJC urged Pakistan to step up efforts to protect the country’s Christian minority, and bring to justice those responsible for the grievous assault in Lahore.
“The violence in Pakistan is but another example of how precariously Christians live in some countries,” said AJC Executive Director David Harris. Christians make up about 1.6% of Pakistan's population.
The weekend violence came after a Muslim individual reportedly accused a Christian co-worker of making a blasphemous remark about the Prophet Muhammad. Other accusations of blasphemy in recent years have sparked sectarian confrontations, but the riot in Lahore was especially large and violent in intensity.
Several thousand Muslims attacked the Joseph Colony, a small Christian neighborhood in Pakistan’s second largest city, set fire to more than 150 houses and two churches. Many residents fled for safety.
“Whatever the circumstances, the fact that one conversation between two individuals can set off a riot targeting an entire Christian community cries out for urgent action by the Pakistan government,” said Harris. “Christians should not live in fear in Pakistan.”