Pakistan Christians close missionary schools after Muslims burn homes

AFP-JIJI

Pakistani Christians on Monday closed missionary schools in protest after a Muslim mob torched more than 100 Christian homes following allegations of blasphemy.

The schools are considered among the best in Pakistan and are extremely popular with wealthy Muslim families, with pupils taught in English in a disciplined and effective learning environment.

More than 3,000 Muslims rampaged through Joseph Colony, a Christian area of the eastern city of Lahore, on Saturday after allegations that a Christian had made derogatory remarks about the Prophet Muhammad three days earlier.

No one was killed but the incident triggered protests around the country from Christians, a tiny minority in overwhelmingly Muslim Pakistan, who were demanding better protection.

“Missionary schools of Lahore will remain closed on Monday on account of massacre in Joseph Colony,” Bishop Sebastian Shaw, chairman of the Catholic board, told reporters.

Sadiq Daniel, bishop of the Church of Pakistan, said all missionary schools in the province, including those in Karachi, would be closed Monday.

In southern Punjab Province, where many Christians live in the main city of Multan, the local bishop also announced the closure of missionary schools.

“All educational institutions of Christian community will remain closed on Monday to express solidarity with the affectees of Joseph Colony,” Bishop Leo Rod- rick Paul said.

Authorities in Lahore arrested 150 people on charges of riot and arson over the rampage, which was triggered by allegations that a Christian sanitary worker had made derogatory remarks about the Prophet Muhammad.