Authorities in Pakistan are handing out cash to Christians whose homes and places of worship were destroyed last week by Muslim rioters angered over an alleged desecration of the Quran.
On Wednesday, hundreds of Muslims went on a rampage through Jaranwala, part of the Punjab province. The attack came after allegations that a Christian man and his friend had ripped pages from a Quran and written insulting messages on other pages, according to DW. The crime of blasphemy can be punishable by death in Pakistan.
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Nearly 100 Christians later returned to their homes in Jaranwala to find complete destruction. Many believers, according to a report from The Associated Press, have been living outside over fears their houses might collapse due to damage from the fires.
Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar, who is serving as the interim leader of Pakistan, said Monday each household will receive two million rupees ($6,800) as repayment for the damage. In a televised address, Kakar pledged to punish all those responsible for the violent attack and described the rioters as “enemies of humanity.”
Police have so far detained 160 rioters in a series of raids in the wake of the rampage, one of the most destructive in the country’s history.
Mohsin Naqvi, the top official in the Punjab province, shared news of the compensations on X.
Naqvi visited Jaranwala on Sunday and held a meeting with local leaders at a burned church.
“They are worried for their safety; they are worried for their children, who witnessed the tragedy and are traumatized,” Khalid Mukhtar, a priest in the city, said of the Christian community there, noting all 26 churches in the city were in some way attacked, burned, or damaged.
While Navqi said the payouts would be completed within the next 48 hours and claimed repair work has already begun, Mukhtar argued that’s not really happening. The priest said the walls of at least two churches have just been repainted rather than repaired.
Pakistan is made up of 96% Muslims and ranks as the No. 7 most dangerous country for Christians on Open Doors US’ World Watch List, a ranking of the countries in which believers face the greatest persecution.
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