Pak Christians accuse police of failing to protect them

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Washington, Aug 4 (ANI): Pakistani authorities have arrested 100 people and offered 6,000 dollars in compensation to Christian families in an effort to reassure the country's minority that they will be protected by the law, after an anti-Christian riot left eight people dead in the town of Gojra over the weekend.

The response of authorities on Monday failed to dampen accusations from Christians that the police neglected to protect them. The attackers in Punjab Province also burned homes to the ground, The Christian Science Monitor reports.

It was the third attack on Pakistani Christians in the past month, a trend that observers attribute to a rise in extremism and suspicions that local Christians are aligned with the US-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Sunni Islamic militants in Pakistan target other minority groups as well, including Shiites and Ahmadis, groups they consider heretics.

According to Minority Rights Group International, a UK-based NGO, Pakistan had the world's highest increase of threats against minorities last year and was ranked the seventh most dangerous country for minorities overall.

"People are saying 'We hate Pakistan and we want to leave' - it's truly a terrible thing for community relations," says Joseph Francis, chairman of the Christian Nationalist Party.

According to Pakistani officials the attacking mob was incited by the banned Islamist group Sipah-e-Sahaba, who claimed that Christians had desecrated the Quran. Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said a government investigation showed that allegation to be baseless.

According to Iqbal Haider, co-chairperson of the HRCP, the attacks are an indication of the unchecked growth of religious extremism.

According to Joseph, Muslim mob in Gojra had been incited with hate-speech that called Christians "America's dogs."

"Since 9/11, we've felt a lot more at risk. Whenever we have large gatherings or processions, we have to ask for police protection," he says. (ANI)

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