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Amid Arrests, Another Outbreak of Violence in Pakistan

Reports of Qur'an desecration again cause deadly riot.
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A mob in Pakistan went on a murderous rampage after a rumors spread that the Qur'an had been desecrated.

That was late last week. And again today.

Residents of Sheikhupura "attacked a factory and allegedly resorted to firing when words spread that one of its employees tore up a calendar inscribed with verses from the Quran," Press Trust of India reported today. (PTI says the fighting may have actually been sparked by a salary dispute.)

The incident comes as international attention continues to focus on weekend violence that left between 7 and 14 Christians dead, again the result of a violent mob outraged at rumors of Qur'an desecration.

Officials today said police have questioned over 200 people over the Gojra violence. Police have arrested about 100 people so far, including members of Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, a banned Sunni militant group. and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, an al Qaeda-affiliated group that broke away from Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan.

There seems to be a growing consensus among observers that the attacks were not a spontaneous outburst, but were planned.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, which is not affiliated with the Pakistan government, said mosques in Gojra had urged local Muslims to gather and "make mincemeat of the Christians." Police had been informed about the mosque announcements, but reportedly did nothing to stop the violence, the group said, according to summaries from Pakistan Christian Post and the Associated Press.

Punjab province Law Minister Rana Sanaullah also told the Associated Press that there was evidence that the attacks were premeditated, such as the many masks worn by the attackers to avoid identification.

At GetReligion, Mollie Ziegler Hemingway notes that no media coverage has included the perspective of Muslims who were involved in the violence. "If there were 20,000 people involved, surely we can talk to a few of them, no?" she asks.

Global Voices, meanwhile, compiles Pakistani condemnation of the attacks.

January/February
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