Pakistan: Mob Destroys Christian Homes, Churches

A mob in Pakistan of about 5,000 Muslims attacked a Christian neighborhood in Jaranwala, outside Faisalabad on August 16, 2023. They burned up to 25 churches and ransacked and destroyed many homes.

Fearful of returning to their homes and neighborhoods, Christians slept in open fields after the attacks.

Over 100 people were arrested for rioting, but whether they will be prosecuted is yet to be seen.

Christian Freedom International’s partners provided immediate aid to Christian survivors in Faisalabad.

The riot started after two Christian brothers were framed for ripping pages of a Quran.

Morning Star News reports that Umar Saleeem, called Rocky, left work when he saw a paper with red ink pasted on the door of a Muslim neighbor.

“When he went closer to read it, he was shocked to see a photograph of him and his younger brother Umair, alias Raja, pasted on top of the page,” a relative told Morning Star News. “Beneath the page were some partially burnt pages of the Koran inscribed with derogatory remarks about Islam and Muhammad.”

Rocky panicked and instinctively removed the pages from the door. He was then accused of committing blasphemy, the relative said.

“The allegation is ridiculous – otherwise who would name himself and his brother as the writers of the note and also put their photo on it?” the relative said. “Someone has framed them to exact revenge.”

Blasphemy is punishable by death in Pakistan.

Blasphemy accusations are oftentimes a weapon to abuse religious minorities or carry out a grudge.

Recently, a Christian man was charged with blasphemy for posting a Bible verse on Facebook. In 2013, over 100 homes of Christians were burned by Muslims in Lahore after a young man was accused of speaking against Mohammed.

Pakistan is promoting a resolution at the UN Human Rights Council this year for censorship and criminalizing blasphemy. Recently, the UN General Assembly unanimously passed a resolution that implicitly promotes censorship of religious speech that others consider offensive.

Pray for Christians in Jaranwala to experience God’s peace and safe places to live.

Pray for blasphemy laws to end and free speech to be respected.

Pray for faith and wisdom for Christians in Pakistan.