More than 120 arrested in Pakistan after mob burned down Christian churches, homes  – LifeSite

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JARANWALA, Pakistan (LifeSiteNews) – More than 120 people have been arrested after violent riots saw Christian churches and homes set ablaze in a town in Pakistan. 

A Muslim mob burned down churches and vandalized the homes of Christians in Jaranwala, a city in the Punjab province, on August 16 following blasphemy allegations against two Christian men.

The two Christians were accused of tearing pages from the Quran and throwing the book, considered holy in Islam, on the ground. State authorities are investigating the two men on charges of blasphemy, a crime punishable by death in the Islamic country. 

While the death sentence has reportedly never been carried out for someone convicted of blasphemy, accusations alone often lead to violent riots, including the lynching and killing of the alleged blasphemers. 

Videos posted on social media show churches and Christian homes being attacked by a mob, with the police seemingly standing by without intervening. 

A clip posted by Catholic Arena shows a mob in front of a burning pile that reportedly includes bibles taken after the mob had ransacked a church. 

“They burnt everything. They destroyed our homes, this house of God,” a Christian told the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). 

Many Christians in Jaranwala fled from their homes when they heard that the angry mob was approaching. 

In another video posted on social media, allegedly showing a scene from the riots in Jaranwala, several people appear to be desecrating Christian graves at a cemetery. 

Punjab Police Chief Usman Anwar reportedly told the BBC that the police stood by in some cases because they “did not want to escalate the tension” and risk losing lives. Anwar confirmed that over 120 people were arrested for participating in the riots. 

The Jaranwala City Police Chief, Bilal Mehmood, said that the two Christian men accused of blasphemy for ripping out pages from a Quran had been arrested as well, according to the Associated Press (AP). 

A local priest told the AP that he believes most of the 17 Christian churches in the city were attacked by the Muslim mob and that his own home had been damaged. 

Bishop Azad Marshall from the Protestant “Church of Pakistan” wrote on X, formally known as Twitter, that “Bibles have been desecrated and Christians have been tortured and harassed having been falsely accused of violating the Holy Quran.” 

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

Pakistani Christian women and children

READ: Nigerian bishop speaks out against ‘atrocities’ of ongoing Islamic persecution against Christians 

Persecution of Christians in Pakistan 

Christians and other non-Muslims have been viciously persecuted in Pakistan for years. OpenDoors, an organization that tracks the persecution of Christians worldwide, ranks Pakistan as the 7th most dangerous country for Christians. 

In 2009, a group of Muslims set ablaze about 60 homes and killed six people accused of “insulting Islam.” In 2021, a Muslim mob lynched a man from Sri Lanka and publicly burned his body for allegedly insulting Islam’s prophet Muhammed. 

While political leaders in Pakistan officially condemned the recent attack against Christians on August 16, authorities have been contributing to the persecution of Christians by treating them as second-class citizens. 

“Jobs that are seen as low, dirty and degrading are reserved for Christians by the authorities, who continue to push them to the margins of society,” OpenDoors writes regarding the situation of Christians in Pakistan. 

“The number of blasphemy cases is increasing, as is the number of Christian (and other minority religion) girls being abducted, abused and forcibly converted to Islam.” 

“The Christian community feels increasingly trapped between the Islamic extremist groups that operate in the region, and a government that appeases these groups,” OpenDoors concludes. 

Help provide food and shelter for these persecuted Christians: LifeFunder

READ: Priest describes brutal persecution of Christians at hands of Islamic jihadists in African nation 

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