Pakistani Christians Close Schools Over Killings
By VOA News
03 August 2009
Pakistani Christians have closed their schools for three days to protest the killings of seven members of the minority religious group in riots by majority Muslims.
Christian leaders said they were closing their schools and colleges starting Monday to mourn the deaths of "innocent people," and protest in a peaceful way.
A group of radical Muslims set fire to a church and some 40 Christian homes late Saturday in the eastern city of Gojra. Most of those killed were burned to death. There were also reports of gunfights.
The violence broke out over reports that Christians had desecrated Islam's holy book, the Koran.
Government officials say there was no truth to the allegations. Christian leaders have demanded the attackers be brought to justice.
Under a law in Pakistan forbidding blasphemy, defiling the Koran is punishable by death.
The riots have raised fears of widening unrest. Pakistani paramilitary troops have been patrolling Gojra, where officials have urged both the Muslim and Christian communities to show restraint.
Christians make up a tiny minority of Pakistan's predominantly Sunni Muslim population.
The riots began Thursday, but had calmed before flaring up again Saturday.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.
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