Police have taken the Christian man accused of blasphemy into custody pending an investigation. Those who attacked the Christian neighborhood are also being investigated for a range of offenses, including arson, robbery and insulting the feelings of the Christian community, said Rehman, the police officer.
Akram Gill, a local bishop in the Lahore Christian community, said the incident had more to do with personal enmity between the two men involved than blasphemy. He said the men got into a brawl after drinking late one night, and in the morning the Muslim man made up the blasphemy story as payback.
Once an accusation is made, it's difficult to get it reversed, partly because law enforcement officials and politicians do not want to be seen as being soft on blasphemers.
Two prominent politicians were assassinated in 2011 for urging reform of the law. The killer of one of the politicians was hailed as a hero, and lawyers at his legal appearances showered him with rose petals.
According to Human Rights Watch, there are at least 16 people on death row in Pakistan for blasphemy and another 20 are serving life sentences.
While Muslims are frequently accused of blasphemy, members of Pakistan's small Christian community are especially vulnerable to the accusations. Christians make up less than 5 percent of Pakistan's 180 million people and many hold low-paying jobs, such as cleaning and street sweeping.
Last year, there was a rare reversal of a blasphemy case against A teenage Christian girl with suspected mental disabilities who was accused of burning pages of the Quran. She was released after a huge domestic and international outcry about her treatment. A local Muslim cleric was arrested and accused of planting the pages in her bag to incriminate her, a rare example of the accuser facing legal consequences. However, he was later freed on bail.
Associated Press Writer Rasool Dawar in Peshawar and Adil Jawad in Karachi, Pakistan, contributed to this report.
- 50 things about 'The Sound of Music' to help...
- Utah assails Obama's Clean Power Plan
- Can you name your U.S. Representative? See...
- 34 of the best Lemony Snicket quotes
- 17 years later, parents find kidnapped...
- Kerry tries to dampen fuss over Israeli PM's...
- Young girl's story may lead Idaho to approve...
- 11 Seussian quotations to celebrate Dr....
- FCC approves 'net neutrality' rules for... 26
- Congress OKs 1-week bill to keep... 24
- Utah assails Obama's Clean Power Plan 20
- Kerry tries to dampen fuss over Israeli... 17
- Democrats caught between Obama,... 16
- Calling for cooperation, Obama engages... 15
- Bill O'Reilly's partisan critics... 14
- Obama plans trip to South Carolina,... 14