Blasphemy furore hit Pakistan again as two Christian women were beaten and publicly humiliated by an angry mob in this city apparently over allegations of frivolous religious sacrilege.
The roughing up of the family forced them to go into hiding for fear of being killed. The fresh incident has come as the country is yet to recover from the assassination of outspoken governor Salmaan Taseer for his support to Christian woman Aasia Bibi in jail on blasphemy charges.
According to media reports, the incident was triggered over a trivial dispute between a Muslim woman and her Christian sister-in-law, both residents of an east Lahore neighbourhood.
The two got into an argument on Tuesday night. Though the matter was apparently settled, the Muslim woman walked out onto the street on Wednesday morning after her husband had gone to work and started shouting that her sister-in-law had abused Prophet Mohammed, The Express Tribune newspaper reported.
A short while later, a group of men led by Muhammad Sameer, a member of a religious organisation "keen on raising its sectarian profile," forced their way into the Christian woman's house and started slapping her, said her brother.
"Other men and women from the neighbourhood started gathering at the house too and they beat up my sister and mother. They were the only people in the house," the brother said.
"We tried our best to get her to confess her crime," Sameer said. As a member of a religious organisation, he said he could not tolerate any derogatory remarks about the Prophet.
Khadim Hazoor, Sameer's son-in-law, said faces of Christian women were blackened and they were made to wear necklaces of shoes and paraded around the neighbourhood on donkeys. The crowd showed no mercy even as the women repeatedly touched the feet of the men denying committing blasphemy and asked for forgiveness.
Sameer said he was "very proud" of his wife for beating the Christian woman.
"She beat (the woman) more than anyone else. Her hand is so swollen that she hasn't been able to make rotis since the day of the incident. I've been getting my meals from a restaurant," he said.
The Christian woman's family left the neighbourhood soon after the incident.
"None of our relatives is ready to let us stay with them. They fear the wrath of the extremists, particularly after the assassination of Salmaan Taseer," a male member of the family said.