- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 12, 2005

LAHORE , Pakistan (AP) — Hundreds of Muslims attacked and burned two churches in Pakistan yesterday after reports that a Christian man had desecrated Islam’s holy book. No one was injured in the blazes.

A school, a dormitory and the home of a priest also were torched by the crowd of about 1,500 Muslims near the town of Sangla Hill, about 80 miles northeast of Lahore, said police official Ali Asghar Dogar.

In the investigation of the attacks, about two dozen people had been arrested, Mr. Dogar said.

The fires burned a day after a local Muslim resident accused a Christian of burning a one-room Islamic school along with copies of the Koran.

Mr. Dogar said people who lost money while gambling with the Christian man on Friday apparently leveled the charges, but police had detained him and were investigating.

Shahbaz Bhatti, head of the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance, which promotes the rights of minorities in mainly Muslim Pakistan, condemned the attacks on the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches.

“No Christian burned copies of the Koran,” he told the Associated Press. “No Christian even can think of doing it. We have maximum regard and respect for the Koran and Islam’s prophet Muhammad.”

Just 3 percent of Pakistan’s population of more than 160 million are not Muslims. The country’s Christian minority generally coexists peacefully with the Muslim majority, but Islamic terrorists occasionally attack Christian targets and Christian worship services.

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