In a disturbing incident in eastern Pakistan, several churches were burnt down by a mob of Muslim men. The attack was triggered by accusations that a local Christian family had desecrated the Quran. This incident highlights the sensitivity of blasphemy issues in Pakistan, where Christians, who make up about 2% of the population, are often targeted with baseless blasphemy allegations. The attack resulted in the destruction of churches and caused great distress to the Christian community.
Residents reported that up to a dozen structures classified as churches had been damaged, while police and rescue services reported at least four churches had been set on fire. Several thousand police have been sent to secure the area and dozens of people detained, Amir Mir, the information minister for Punjab province, said in a statement that also condemned the alleged blasphemy.
“Bibles have been desecrated and Christians have been tortured and harassed having been falsely accused of violating the Holy Quran. We cry out for justice and action from law enforcement and those who dispense justice and the safety of all citizens to intervene immediately and assure us that our lives are valuable in our own homeland that has just celebrated independence and freedom.” Tweeted Bishop Azad Marshall on Twitter also known as “X”.
Words fail me as I write this. We, Bishops, Priests and lay people are deeply pained and distressed at the Jaranwala incident in the Faisalabad District in Pakistan. A church building is being burnt as I type this message. Bibles have been desecrated and Christians have been… pic.twitter.com/xruE83NPXL
— Bishop Azad Marshall (@BishopAzadM) August 16, 2023
Pakistan is considered unsafe for minorities due to various reasons. Firstly, there is a history of discrimination and persecution against religious minorities, including physical assaults and threats of elimination. Secondly, marginalized groups such as Scheduled Caste Hindus, also known as Dalits, face disproportionate disadvantages in accessing services, resources, and opportunities.
Additionally, grave human rights violations, such as enforced disappearances, torture, crackdowns on peaceful protests, attacks against journalists, and violence against religious minorities and marginalized groups, have been reported. Pakistani Christians, for example, have been forced into hazardous occupations like sanitation work due to discriminatory practices. These factors contribute to the unsafe environment for minorities in Pakistan.