Mob in Pakistan vandalises churches over blasphemy accusations

Mob in Pakistan vandalises churches over blasphemy accusations (Images posted on X by Bishop Azad Marshal) /IANS

Hamza Ameer 

Islamabad, Aug 16 (IANS) A mob attack in Pakistan has left at least four churches vandalised, while several homes of Christian community have also been looted in Jaranwala city of Punjab province. 

The incident occurred after two Christians were accused of desecrating pages of the Holy Quran with abusive comments, triggering anger among the local clerics, who announced their anger through different mosques, calling on locals of the areas to join together and punish the two accused Christians for committing blasphemy.  

As per details of the incident, two Christian local residents of Jaranwala city, located near Faisalabad in Punjab province, namely Rocky Saleem and Raju Saleem, were allegedly involved in committing blasphemy and daring the Muslims in the area that they did not fear them. 

“Three pages of the Holy Quran were seen in the street where Raju and Rocky lived. The pages were marked with abusive comments against Islam in red ink,” said a police officer.  

“Along with those pages, an A4 size paper was also present on the street with picture of both Raju and Rocky. Underneath the pictures, it was written that because they (Raju and Rocky) did not fear Muslims, they had also put up their pictures for them to know who desecrated the Holy Quran,” the police officer said. 

After the local residents saw those pages, the clerics of the mosque was informed, who communicated the incident to other clerics and decided to join the locals together and move towards the residence where Raju and Rocky lived.  

“Announcements were made in mosques that Raju and Rocky have committed blasphemy and that they must be punished. After those announcements, locals from markets, schools, homes and mosques came out in anger and marched towards the residence of Rocky and Raju,” a local resident said.  

“When they reached their house, both Raju and Rocky had fled. After that, the angry mob moved towards the churches, broke in and vandalised them,” he added.  

The angry mob chanted pro-Islam slogans as they set ablaze at least four churches, desecrated Holy Bible books present inside them and looted several homes of Christian around those churches.  

Bishop Azad Marshal, President Bishop Church of Pakistan, expressed his sorrow over the incident, which he said was based on a false accusation of blasphemy. 

“Words fail me as I write this. We, Bishops, Priests and lay people are deeply pained and distressed at the Jaranwala incident in Faisalabad district in Pakistan. A church building is being burnt as I type this message. 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,” he said. 

Newly elected interim-Prime Minister Anwaar ul Haq Kakar has condemned the incident and directed law enforcement agencies to apprehend culprits. 

“I am gutted by the visuals coming out of Jaranwala. Stern action would be taken against those who violate law and target minorities. All law enforcement has been asked to apprehend culprits and bring them to justice. Rest assured that the government of Pakistan stands with our citizenry on equal basis,” said Anwaar ul Haq. 

A police officer said that in view of the worsening security situation in Jaranwala, the Punjab government has called in the help and deployment of Pakistan Rangers to control the situation. 

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