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Missionary schools close after seven ‘burned alive’ in pakistan
Islamabad, Aug 3 (Agencies):
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Published on 4 Aug. 2009 1:02 AM IST
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Missionary schools across Pakistan closed on Monday in a three day protest against the deaths of up to seven Christians who were burned alive in clashes with Muslims. Two children - a brother and sister aged six and 13 - their parents and 75-year-old grandfather were among those killed in violence that broke out in Gojra in Punjab province on Saturday. One report said that six Christians died in flames, while two were killed by gunshots. Muslims torched Christians’ homes following unsubstantiated allegations some of them had desecrated the Koran. Some 40 homes were burned down. Paramilitary troops and other security forces were patrolling the city Monday. Gojra is in Pakistan’s Faisalabad region, which is dotted with hard- line Islamist schools. Government officials have said preliminary investigations showed there was no desecration of the Koran and that a “rumour” was being exploited by anti-state elements to create chaos. Police have registered a complaint against some government officials and over 800 unidentified men, as Christian leaders demanded justice for those behind the killings. “Christian schools will remain closed for three days from today to mourn the death of innocent people in Gojra,” said Bishop Sadiq Daniel, head of the Church of Pakistan diocese in Karachi and southwestern Baluchistan province. “There is no proof of blasphemy, but if someone has done that he, and not the entire community, should be punished.” Desecration of the Koran is punishable by death in Pakistan. While Christian schools and colleges in Punjab are largely closed for summer vacation, they were set to reopen in Pakistan’s biggest city of Karachi on Monday. Pakistan is a predominantly Muslim country and religious minorities, including Christians, account for roughly 4 percent of the 170 million population. “The blasphemy law is always used against minorities,” said Tahir Naveed Chaudhry, a Christian member of the Punjab provincial parliament. “Now minorities all over Pakistan feel they aren’t secure.”

 
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