Christians In Pakistan Targeted With Violence

Mob violence in Pakistan has increased in recent weeks, destroying Christian churches and houses in Jaranwala.

Footage and photos document the looting and destruction of churches by a crowd, seemingly headed by Muslims, after accusations that a Christian and his friend had committed blasphemy by tearing pages out of a Quran.

Video footage shows a rowdy mob breaking into a church, flinging furniture out the windows, shattering altars, and setting the structure on fire. As a result of the attacks, many Christians evacuated their homes. When the violence subsided, and they returned, they found everything had been looted or destroyed.

Extremely dire circumstances in Pakistan raise doubts about the integrity of the blasphemy claims that sparked the unrest. Nearly 97% of Pakistanis adhere to Islam, with 2.1% following the Hindu faith.

Pakistan’s constitution guarantees religious minorities’ freedoms, although the government has been criticized for failing to uphold such guarantees. Christians in Pakistan are treated as second-class citizens, according to Open Doors, a Christian nonprofit that aids persecuted churches throughout the globe. There has been a long history of persecution and prejudice against Christians in eastern Pakistan, and the recent surge of violence is only the latest example.

The group claims that religious minorities in Pakistan are disproportionately affected by Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy laws, which are used to settle grudges and take retribution. Despite making up less than 2% of the population, Christians account for roughly 25% of all blasphemy accusations, which may result in the death penalty. Last Thursday, police arrested the two men being held on blasphemy charges.

As a cause of oppression against religious minorities, ADF International has criticized Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. While condemning religious persecution, Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has remained silent despite growing criticism of the country’s blasphemy laws. The government of Pakistan claims that more than 130 suspects were apprehended in the days after the attack. The assaults have been condemned as “heinous” by government officials, and Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar visited Jaranwala to console victims and pledge quick punishment for those responsible.

Those who ran into the forest more afraid of punishment than the venomous snakes and insects they encountered are waiting a long time. He called on the Pakistani government to end the persecution of Christians and allow them to cross international borders in search of safer refuge.