Argument between friends sparked anti-Christian riot

LAHORE: A drunken row between two friends was the trigger for blasphemy allegations that prompted a mob of angry protesters to burn more than 100 Christian homes in Lahore’s Joseph Colony, police and witnesses said.

More than 3,000 protesters rampaged through the colony on March 9 after allegations that a Christian had made derogatory remarks about Prophet Mohammed (Pbuh).
Police said they had arrested more than 60 people over Saturday’s attack.

Sawan Masih, a Christian sanitary worker, was arrested on March 8 after his Muslim friend Shahid Imran complained he had made blasphemous remarks about the prophet. The arrest prompted many Christians to flee, fearing a backlash.

The senior police official for the area, Multan Khan, said Masih and Imran had been friends for many years.

“They used to sit together and drink together almost every evening. They were drunk on March 6 when they had some arguments,” Khan told reporters.

It was during the argument that Masih allegedly made the blasphemous remarks, Khan said.

Local resident Altaf Masih, also a sanitary worker, said “while they were drunk they had an argument over discussion on religious issues.