>100 Christian Homes Burned in Pakistan Because of “Allegations That a Christian Man Made Remarks Against … Mohammed”

CNN reports:

[Pakistani Christian] demonstrators denounced the burning of more than 100 homes of Christians on Saturday — a spree spurred by allegations that a Christian man made remarks against the Muslim prophet Mohammed.

Some of the hundreds of protesters Sunday threw stones at police, saying the government failed to adequately protect Christians, Lahore senior police official Rai Tahir said.

Tahir said video footage of the fires helped lead to the arrests of more than 150 attackers. He said charges of terrorism have been filed against the suspects.

The violence that tore through Lahore’s Badami Bagh community Saturday followed the arrest of Sawan Masih, a Christian in his 20s accused of blasphemy….

If convicted, Masih faces the death penalty…. Masih [denied the charges, saying he and his two accusers] got into an argument while drinking and that the other two men threatened to publicly accuse him of blasphemy, according to [a senior police official]….

There have been about 1,400 blasphemy cases since the laws were first enacted in 1986, according to U.S.-based Human Rights Watch. There are more than 15 cases of people on death row for blasphemy in Pakistan, and more than 50 people have been killed while facing trial for the charge, according to the organization….

President Asif Ali Zardari issued a statement Saturday on the most recent “unfortunate incident.” He noted that the country’s constitution protects the rights of all Pakistanis, and that “such acts of vandalism against minorities tarnish the image of the country.”

Thanks to Prof. Howard Friedman (Religion Clause) for the pointer.