Pakistani police said that, on Wednesday, a Muslim mob stormed a Christian suburb in the eastern province of Punjab, burned a church, damaged two others, and demolished the home of a man after he was accused of desecrating the pages of the Islamic Bible.
The local police chief, Rizwan Khan, said the attack took place in the Faisalabad district of eastern Punjab province. He said the mob attacked the Christian colony after some Muslims living in the local Christian neighborhood accused Raja Amir and his friend of desecrating pages from the Koran.
An 84-second video of the attack released by the Associated Press showed crowds cheering for several men who were throwing furniture and other items from a second-story window of a church building to the floor below.
Another video of the attack released by the Associated Press shows an angry mob in front of a local church building with black smoke billowing from it. A member of the mob appears on top of the building, as he tries to topple the pedestal bearing a cross. Meanwhile, fires were lit inside and outside the building. Another scene from the video shows members of the mob throwing the Christian accused’s belongings onto a fire outside his home.
Mohsin Iqbal, a local resident, called on the police to take action to stop the attacks.
“One or two people engaged in blasphemy does not mean we are punishing an entire community,” he said. “We appeal to the government, police and Chief Minister of Punjab to take stern action against those involved, because Muslims are being harmed by this act.”
Police chief Khan said the accusations enraged Muslims, who began congregating there, and the demonstrators then began attacking several churches before police dispersed them with batons. He said the authorities are trying to restore order with the help of elders and clerics in Garanwala district, where the attack took place.
“The Conference of Christian Leaders expresses its outrage and grave concern towards the Christian communities under attack in Pakistan, today. The authorities must take immediate action to protect vulnerable communities, bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice and ensure… https://t.co/eBdghO13D4
Rev. Johnny Moore (@JohnnieM) August 16, 2023
Police still say they are registering cases against those who allegedly violated the Koran.
He said that all Muslims who were involved in attacks on churches and Christian property would also be tracked down and arrested. “Our number one priority was to save the lives of all Christians,” he said. “We have deployed additional police in the Christian colony.”
The Christian Custody is sounding the alarm about taking measures to toughen the punishment for blasphemy
Meanwhile, Christian minorities have expressed concern about a bill passed by Pakistan’s legislature that would stiffen punishment for crimes against those who “blaspheme” Muhammad and, in the process, would fail to protect the rights of minorities.
The Criminal Laws (Amendment) Act 2023 was passed in Pakistan’s upper house on August 7, according to the UK-based persecution watchdog. Christian solidarity around the world (CSW).
The law increases the penalty for insulting the Prophet Muhammad’s companions, wives and family members from three years to life imprisonment. Those sentenced by law must serve at least 10 years in prison.
Minority groups and other communities in Pakistan warned that the legislation could fuel rights abuses and be used to further target religious minorities when it was passed by the National Assembly for the first time in January.
These groups have also expressed their fears that the government has ignored their calls and an appeal from the Minister of Human Rights, Riaz Hossein Pirzada, who in message He asked Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif in February to reconsider the bill and repeal it.
CSI is deeply disappointed by the passage of the Criminal Amendment Act of 2023, given the overwhelming evidence of how current blasphemy legislation has led to extrajudicial killings and countless incidents of mob violence based on false accusations. Making blasphemy laws tougher CSW founder and president Mervyn Thomas said in a press release:
Thomas added: “Pakistan must do more to protect the most vulnerable minorities.”
As reported by CBN News, under Pakistan’s harsh blasphemy laws, anyone accused of insulting Islam or Muhammad can be sentenced to death. These laws are not well defined and require low standards of evidence. Although no one was executed for blasphemy, dozens of people were killed by the mob simply for being accused of it, and many other lives were destroyed.
Blasphemy laws are often used as a weapon of revenge against Muslims and non-Muslims to settle personal scores or to gain the upper hand in disputes over money, property, or business.
Pakistan is listed at No. 7 in Open Doors Global Watch List 2023 One of the countries where it is dangerous to be a follower of Jesus Christ. The country was listed at number eight on the list last year.
On November 20, 2022, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken redesignated Pakistan as a “Country of Special Concern” (CPC) under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 due to severe violations of religious freedom.
Pakistan was included in the US State Department statement 2022 Report on International Religious Freedom in May.