Lahore Archbishop Saves Christian Community From Mob by Calling on Muslim Leaders' Aid

Prelate says this is first time authorities have been able to save the people and their homes

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This report is contributed by John Newton and Marta Petrosillo of Aid to the Church in Need.

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The Christian quarter of Lahore was attacked by a mob after a mentally handicapped man was accused of desecrating the Qur’an.

Young Christian man Humayun Faisal Masih was accused of blasphemy after burning some portions of newspaper. According to his accusers the papers contained verses from the Qur’an

Archbishop Sebastian Shaw of Lahore described the events of Sunday evening (24th May) to Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need.

He was alerted to the mob’s actions at seven o’clock, just after they had blocked the traffic in Sanda, a mainly Christian quarter of Lahore, setting fire to tyres and hurling stones at houses. 

Archbishop Shaw said: “When a Muslim is accused of blasphemy, it is he alone who pays the consequences.

“However, if it is a Christian who is accused, then the entire Christian community is held responsible.”

According to Archbishop Shaw, Christians began leaving their homes fearing there would be violence against Christians as there was during the 2009 attacks on Gojra and the 2013 Joseph Colony riots.

He said: “I immediately requested help from some Muslim leaders and local politicians. 

“Thanks to their intervention, the police succeeded in dispersing the crowd by midnight. 

“It is the first time the government has succeeded in acting in time to save both the people and their homes.”


Archbishop Shaw said that the authorities’ prompt response follows developments after attacks on two churches in Lahore on 15th March.

He said: “Since then I have maintained close relations with politicians and representatives of the local Muslim community. 

“It was their support that has enabled us to avert the worst.”

Mr Masih has been formally charged with blasphemy under article 295B of the Pakistani penal code which, together with article 295C, is known as the “blasphemy law”.

Under article 295B intentional desecration of Qur’anic texts carries a sentence of life imprisonment.

According to local sources, the young man is mentally handicapped – but this is not a mitigating factor under Pakistan law. 

Professor Shawid Mobeen of the Pontifical Lateran University and author of Blasphemy Laws and Religious Freedom told ACN: “The law takes no account of the intention on the part of the accused. 

“In order to be convicted it is sufficient to drop a copy of the Qur’an or accidentally tread on a page of a newspaper on which are printed verses of the Qur’an, the sacred book of Islam. 

“And yet only 5 percent of Pakistanis even understand Arabic, and consequently 95 percent the population could easily commit blasphemy without even realising it.”

Aid to the Church in Need is an international Catholic charity under the guidance of the Holy See, providing assistance to the suffering and persecuted Church in more than 140 countries. (USA); (UK); (AUS); (IRL); (CAN)


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