By BosNewsLife Asia Service
ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN (BosNewsLife)– Pakistani police detained a young shopkeeper for blasphemy after he was falsely accused of burning pages of the Qur’an, viewed as a holy book by Muslims, a Christian advocacy group said Friday, August 7, citing local sources.
International Christian Concern (ICC) said security forces detained Imran John, 22, on July 1 in Faisalabad following complaints from Haji Liaqat, a neighboring Muslim shopkeeper.
“Imran had been cleaning his small grocery shop and took the trash out to the street to burn – a common method of disposing of garbage in Pakistan. Haji saw him doing this, and went and told some other Muslims that Imran had desecrated the Qur’an,” ICC reported.
Soon after, a Muslim mob allegedly grabbed Imran, and started beating him. Some bystanders, including Christians and Muslims, came to help and called police, ICC explained. “The police soon arrived and took Imran into custody.”
Hundreds of Muslims gathered later that day again after imams announced over mosque loudspeakers that a Christian had blasphemed Islam, ICC said. “The mob blocked roads, burned tires, and demanded that Imran be put to death.”
Karamat Gill, a Christian social worker from Imran’s neighborhood, expressed surprise about the tensions. “We have lived in the area peacefully with Muslims for decades and nothing like this has ever happened here. There must be a conspiracy behind this,” ICC quoted him as saying in a statement.
Christian leaders have urged calm and asked Muslims to allow an objective police investigation. “The Christians maintain, though, that the police arrested Imran after the mobs gathered, conducted no investigation, and are holding him with no proof,“ ICC added.
It comes amid mounting religious tensions in Pakistan where several Christians have been killed in recent weeks in Islamic violence.