Mob targeted Ahmadi neighborhood in Gujranwala over an allegedly blasphemous Facebook post.
At least three members of the Ahmadi community in Gujranwala were killed late on Sunday night after a mob attacked and set fire to five houses in the Arafat Colony area of the city.
According to a BBC report, published on its Urdu portal, the three included an elderly woman, a 7-year-old girl and an infant. The report also stated that a pregnant woman had miscarried due to smoke inhalation and four others had been injured. The wounded are currently in critical condition and undergoing treatment at the District Headquarters Hospital.
The deputy superintendent of police of the region told the BBC that the mob had been incited after an Ahmadi youth allegedly shared blasphemous material on his Facebook page. While the crowd initially protested against the Facebook post, it quickly grew violent and attacked the Ahmadi community’s homes after they barricaded themselves inside. Witnesses told the BBC that the angry mob looted and torched the houses before police and local politicians could calm it down.
Pakistan has strict laws against blasphemy, which can sometimes carry the death penalty, but rights activists say they are often misused to settle personal disputes. While the law applies to all religions, it is often used to target minority communities, including Ahmadis, Christians and Hindus. Even unproven allegations can provoke a violent public response.
In 2010 militants stormed two Ahmadi mosques in Lahore, killing 82 worshippers in gun and grenade attacks, before targeting a hospital where victims were being treated. Ahmadi mosques and graveyards are often desecrated.
A recent report from a U.S. government advisory panel said Pakistan used blasphemy laws more than any other country. It listed 14 people on death row and 19 others serving life sentences for insulting Islam.