- Last week, a mob of angry Muslims demolished Pakistan's churches and Christian homes, leading to the arrest of 160 rioters.
- Hundreds of Muslims protested against accusations that a Christian had desecrated the Koran.
- Pakistani authorities are distributing $6,800 to nearly 100 Christian families whose homes were destroyed in the Muslim-led unrest.
Pakistani authorities on Monday distributed thousands of dollars to nearly 100 Christian families whose homes were vandalized or damaged last week by a Muslim mob angry over an alleged desecration of the Koran.
The government of Acting Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar said Monday each household would receive $6,800 in compensation. Police said they arrested dozens more rioters during ongoing raids, bringing the total number of people arrested over the attacks in Jaranwala town to 160.
On Wednesday, hundreds of Muslims rioted over allegations that a Christian and his friend had desecrated the holy book of Islam. Christians who fled their homes before the attackers later returned to a scene of destruction. Since then, many have lived outside for fear that the burned buildings could collapse.
129 Muslims arrested in Pakistan after mob attacks on churches and homes of minority Christians
The killing spree, one of the most destructive in the country's history, sparked nationwide condemnation. Kakar traveled to the area on Monday to meet with some victims of the attacks and distribute compensation. In a televised address, he pledged that the state would ensure the protection of minorities, including Christians, Hindus, Sikhs and Ahmadis.
Kakar said none of the rioters would go unpunished and called those behind the attacks “enemies of humanity”.
Earlier, Mohsin Naqvi, the top official of Punjab province, where Jaranwala is located, announced the compensations on X, formerly known as Twitter. Naqvi visited the city on Sunday and held a meeting of local officials in a burned church.
“They are worried about their safety, they are worried about their children who have witnessed the tragedy and are traumatized,” said Father Khalid Mukhtar of the local Christians. All 26 churches in Jaranwala were attacked, burned down or damaged, he said.
A Muslim mob attacks three churches after accusing a Christian man of desecrating the Koran in east Pakistan
The rioters said a local Christian and his friend tore out pages from a Koran, threw them on the ground and wrote insulting remarks on other pages. The police arrested the two men.
According to police, local leaders of the hard-line Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan party have also instigated violence that has seen a Christian cemetery desecrated. The party has in the past staged violent rallies over Koran desecration in Sweden, Denmark and elsewhere in Pakistan.
Naqvi said the reparations would be completed within the next 48 hours and that authorities had started repairing the churches.
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However, Mukhtar denied Naqvi's claim regarding church repairs, saying that the walls of two churches were only painted and not rebuilt.
Under Pakistan's blasphemy laws, anyone found guilty of insulting Islam can be sentenced to death. While authorities have yet to hand down the death penalty for blasphemy, mere allegations can often incite mob violence and lynchings.