Published: March 11. 2013 4:00AM PST
LAHORE, Pakistan — Hundreds of Christians clashed with police across Pakistan on Sunday, a day after a Muslim mob burned dozens of homes owned by members of the minority religious group in retaliation for alleged insults against Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.
Christians are often the target of Pakistan’s harsh blasphemy laws, which rights activists say are frequently used to persecute religious minorities or settle personal disputes. Politicians have been reluctant to reform the laws for fear of being attacked by religious radicals, as has happened in the past.
The plight of Pakistan’s other religious minorities, such as Shiite Muslims, Hindus and Ahmadis, has also deepened in recent years as hard-line interpretations of Islam have gained ground and militants have stepped up attacks against groups they oppose. Most Pakistanis are Sunni Muslims.
Authorities have arrested 160 suspected members of the mob, many of whom were identified through TV footage and photos published in newspapers, said police officer Abdur Rehman.
But it remains to be seen whether anyone will be held to account. Mob violence is not uncommon following blasphemy allegations, and police often round up large numbers of suspects. However, these arrests rarely result in actual convictions.
K.M. Chaudary / The Associated Press