A Christian village in Pakistan was attacked by a mob of Muslims last week following a quarrel between a group of young Christians and a Muslim man.
Media reports said hundreds of Muslims beat Christian men and women and looted their homes on May 15.
The parish priest of the village, Father Khalid Mukhtar, described the incident as a “terrorist attack.”
The priest also decried the failure of authorities to arrest the perpetrators. “While the victims went to hospital to receive treatment, the guilty are on the loose,” the priest told AsiaNews.
The report said the incident started when a Muslim passerby complained that three Christian youth who were cleaning the entrance of a church dirtied his clothes.
The Muslim man came back with his friends and hit the young Christians who reportedly suffered injuries.
The next day, a huge crowd arrived and attacked about 80 Christian homes, according to the AsiaNews report.
Meanwhile, a US State Department report released last week highlighted what it described as the worsening state of religious freedom in Pakistan.
The report cited several sources that point to the country’s blasphemy law as one of the root causes for the decline.
According to the report, in 2019, 199 individuals were accused of blasphemy with 70 percent of cases coming from the country’s religious minority communities (such as Christian, Hindu, and Shia and Ahmadi Muslims), though these groups make up just a small percentage of Pakistan’s population.
The ongoing misuse of the blasphemy law against religious minorities has been vigorously denied by the Pakistani leadership.
In recent months, the European parliament passed a resolution condemning the blasphemy law and called Pakistan’s preferential trade status with the EU into review, a move that was quickly rejected by Pakistani officials.
Pakistan has one of the harshest punishments on record for blasphemy, including life in prison and even death.
To date, no death sentences have been carried out in blasphemy cases, though mobs of Pakistani Muslims have assaulted and even killed individuals accused of blasphemy extrajudicially.
The US State Department report adds more weight to the growing criticism that Pakistan is facing internationally for upholding their blasphemy law and enabling discrimination against religious minorities.