Muslims arrested for attacking Christian men in Pakistan on allegations of desecrating Quran

Muslims arrested for attacking Christian men in Pakistan on allegations of desecrating Quran
A Christian father and son were attacked by an angry mob who accused them of desecrating a copy of the Quran
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Punjab police have upped security at churches in Pakistan [GETTY/file]

Police in eastern Pakistan arrested dozens of Muslim men and charged them with attacking a Christian father and son on allegations of desecrating pages of Islam's holy book, officials said Monday.

The mob went on a rampage Saturday after locals saw burnt pages of the Quran outside the two Christian men's house and accused the son of being behind it, setting their house and shoemaking factory on fire in the city of Sargodha in Punjab province, said senior police officer Asad Ijaz Malhi. They also beat up the son.

Malhi said police forces rescued the two wounded men and transported them to a hospital where they were in stable condition, and that at least 33 men were arrested following multiple police raids.

Authorities were chasing others who may be involved in the attack, he said.

The blaze fully incinerated the factory and parts of the house, residents and the police said.

Punjab police said in a statement it beefed up security at churches.

Blasphemy accusations are common in Pakistan and under the country's blasphemy laws, anyone found guilty of insulting Islam or Islamic religious figures can be sentenced to death. While no one has been executed on such charges, often just an accusation can cause riots and incite mobs to violence, lynching and killings.

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The latest violence, however, brought back memories of one of the worst attacks on Christians in Pakistan in August 2023, when thousands of people set churches and homes of Christians on fire in Jaranwala, a district in Punjab province.

Muslim residents at the time also claimed they saw two men desecrating the Quran.