Divergent verdicts on two of Lahore’s biggest religious riots undercuts optimism for new law.
Two of Pakistan’s biggest religious riots have finally gotten their day in court—with strikingly different results.
An anti-terrorism court in Lahore has sentenced 42 Christians for rioting after two churches in Pakistan’s largest Christian neighborhood were bombed in 2015, reports Fides, the news agency of the Vatican.
The ruling comes less than a month after the court acquitted more than 100 Muslims for rampaging through another one of Lahore’s major Christian communities in 2013 over one man’s alleged blasphemy.
The 42 Christians were roughly half of those accused of murder and terrorism after two Muslim men suspected of bombing Sunday services in Youhanabad were killed. The National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP), an initiative of Pakistan’s Catholic bishops, told Fides that they were disappointed that the church attackers have not been punished.
Also left unpunished were the approximately 112 Muslims who were arrested for ransacking, looting, and setting fire to more than 100 homes in Joseph Colony in 2013. The court found them innocent despite eyewitnesses and videos of the attack, reported World Watch Monitor.
“The evidence was not enough to prove the crime,” said judge Chaudhry Muhammad Azam.
Cecil Shane Chaudhry, executive director of the NCJP, told UCA News, a Hong Kong-based outlet focused on Asian Catholics, that the Joseph Colony ruling was “quite upsetting.”
“Basically, this means that, despite video footage, documents, and pictures of thousands rampaging through Christian properties, the court has not found anyone guilty,” he said. “So mobs are free to do whatever they want.”
The two cases from Lahore, the second-largest city …