Police stop burning of Lahore church where man accused of burning Qur'an hid

(Photo: REUTERS / Faisal Mahmood)Members of the Pakistani Christian community hold placards and wooden crosses during a demonstration to condemn the death of a Christian couple in a village in Punjab province on Tuesday, in Islamabad November 5, 2014. Police in Pakistan arrested dozens of people after a mob beat a Christian couple to death and burned their bodies for allegedly desecrating a Quran.

Hundreds of enraged Muslims stormed a Catholic Church in Lahore after learning a Christian man accused of burning a copy of the Qur'an had sought refuge in the building.

Riot police officers clashed with the mob May 24 who tried to set the Saint Joseph Catholic Church on fire. The crowd pelted the riot police with stones, injuring a senior officer named Haider Ashraf.

Authorities dispatched paramilitary rangers to quell and disperse the mob later, ucanews.com reported.

The Christian man accused of setting a copy of the Qur'an on fire was identified as Humayun Faisal, a resident of Dhoop Saari, Gulshan-e-Raavi. Police took him into custody and charged him.

Dozens of families living in the area left their homes on the night of the attack as fears of a violent backlash from the mob grew, a journalist interviewed by ucanews.com said.


Chaudhry Alam, a resident in the area, told Pakistan Today that he saw some of the mob carrying deadly weapons, including firearms. The gun-toting members fired their weapons in the air during the protest.

"The mob was chanting slogans and also burnt tires. Some of them even fired in the air and looted some houses belonging to Christians," he said.

Out of fear, he said he locked his house, as he and his family stayed inside for their security. Outside, the mob destroyed doors of several houses, breaking wall-fixed electricity meters fixed , the resident said.

Alam said he knew the suspect to be mentally unstable. Faisal purportedly sought medical treatment at a psychiatric hospital for three years.

"He (Humayun) is married and has two children. His wife left him some months ago because of his unsound mind," he asserted.

As of May 25, the community remained tense as police stood guard to prevent another outbreak of violence in the area.

Many houses stayed padlocked, but people were returning to their homes slowly upon learning about the security provided, said Sardar Mushtq Gill, a Christian lawyer who went to the area.

Extremists often cite Pakistan's controversial blasphemy law to single out minorities in the country. Simple allegations have often stoked mob response similar to Sunday's.

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