Muslims in eastern Pakistan went on a rampage Wednesday over allegations that a Christian man had desecrated the Quran, demolishing the man’s house, burning churches and damaging several other homes, police and local Christians said. There were no immediate reports of casualties.
The scale of the violence prompted the government to deploy additional police forces and send in the army to help restore order.
The attacks in Jaranwala, in the district of Faisalabad in Punjab province, erupted after some Muslims living in the area claimed they had seen a local Christian, Raja Amir, and his friend tearing out pages from a Quran, throwing them on the ground and writing insulting remarks on other pages.
Police chief Rizwan Khan said this had angered the local Muslims. A mob gathered and began attacking multiple churches and several Christian homes, burning furniture and other household items. Some members of the Christian community fled their homes to escape the mob.
Police eventually intervened, firing into the air and wielding batons before dispersing the attackers with the help of Muslim clerics and elders. Authorities also said they have started launching raids in an effort to find all the perpetrators. Dozens of rioters were arrested.