Several protests have been held in cities across Pakistan, including Karachi and Multan, hours after mobs ransacked a Christian neighbourhood in Lahore and torched dozens of homes.
Mobs on Saturday caused widespread damage in the eastern Pakistani city after hearing reports that a Christian man had committed blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad, according to a police officer.
The group of Christians in Karachi said the Punjab government should have given the Christian community more protection in Lahore following the allegations of blasphemy.
“It’s very very sad and that’s why I want to appeal to the government; please look into the matter and see also that the people who are affected, their properties are burnt,” Father Peter John, from the Saint Patrick Church in Karachi, said.
“They should also get some sort of compensation.”
Blasphemy is a serious crime in Pakistan that can carry the death penalty, but sometimes outraged residents exact their own retribution for perceived insults of the prophet.
On Friday night, a large crowd from a nearby mosque went to the home of the Christian man in Lahore accused of insulting the prophet, and police took the man into custody to try to pacify the crowd.
Fearing for their safety, hundreds of Christian families fled the area overnight.
Police said the mob returned on Saturday and began ransacking Christian homes and setting them ablaze.
The police spokesperson said no one in the Christian community was hurt, but several policemen were injured when they were hit with stones as they tried to keep the crowd from storming the area.
Pakistan is overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim, with Christians making up around two percent of the population.