In yet another case of brutal violence against minorities, Islamics mobs in Pakistan's Faisalabad went on a rampage, burning and vandalising houses and churches.
Notably, the violence was allegedly in response to allegations of blasphemy.
The government responded to the day-long violent protests involving hundreds of muslim men destroying properties and chanting slogans, by deploying additional police forces and calling in the army to restore order.
The mob attack in Faisalabad's Jaranwala, Punjab province, was triggered by allegations made by some Muslims living in the area.
They claimed to have witnessed a local Christian named Raja Amir and his friend tearing out pages from a Quran, disrespecting them by throwing them on the ground and writing insulting remarks on other pages.
According to Ahad Noor, a district government official, the crowd caused significant damage to the area, including the homes of Christians and several churches.
The Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) used mosques and other locations to incite people and gather them at the alleged incident site.
Social media posts revealed videos and photos of an enraged mob attacking a church, throwing bricks and setting it on fire. Additional footage showed two other churches being targeted, with broken windows and furniture being thrown out and set ablaze.
A disturbing video captured the crowd cheering and demanding punishment for those accused of blasphemy, while a cross was forcefully removed from the top of a church.
Numerous Bibles were burned and desecrated.
Yasir Bhatti, a 31-year-old Christian, was forced to flee his home located near one of the churches that was attacked by the mob.
According to Bhatti, the mob broke windows and doors, and proceeded to remove household items such as fridges, sofas, and chairs, piling them up in front of the Church to be set on fire.
They also showed no mercy as they burned and desecrated Bibles.
Father Gulshan Barkat, a church history teacher at the National Catholic Institute of Theology in Karachi, denounced the blasphemy allegations as false accusations.
He also pointed out that the local mosques shared some blame, as the loudspeakers on their minarets had earlier called on Muslims to gather and "attack the churches and Christian community."
Bishop Azad Marshall, a senior Christian leader, expressed his distress and appealed for help through social media.
He posted on X, calling for justice and immediate intervention from law enforcement and those responsible for dispensing justice, to ensure the safety and value of the lives of all citizens in their own homeland, especially after celebrating independence and freedom.
The local administration has imposed Section 144, which prohibits all forms of assembly for a minimum of 7 days.
Several thousand police officers have been deployed to ensure the safety of the area, resulting in the detainment of numerous individuals.
In order to control the violence, local authorities sought assistance from Muslim clerics and community leaders, as reported by local media outlets.
Law enforcement has taken action by arresting numerous individuals involved in the riots.
The United States has also expressed its concerns regarding the recent mob attack. Wednesday's attack in Faisalabad received widespread condemnation from various leaders, including top Pakistani officials and the US State Department.
Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar expressed his deep distress over the distressing images emerging from the incident. He emphasized that strict measures would be taken against those who violate the law and target minority groups.
Former Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif also joined in condemning the violent rampage. He firmly stated that violence has no place in any religion, emphasizing the importance of peace and tolerance.
In light of the mob attacks against churches, the US expressed its deep concern and called upon Pakistan to thoroughly investigate the incidents. The US government urged for the protection of the minority community and emphasized the need for justice to prevail.
The issue of blasphemy and attacks on minorities in Pakistan continues to be a concerning matter.
The recent outbreak of violence against Christians in Pakistan highlights the ongoing unrest in the country, where blasphemy is a highly sensitive and contentious issue.
Blasphemy accusations are prevalent in Pakistan. Under the blasphemy laws of the country, individuals who are found guilty of insulting Islam or Islamic religious figures can face the death penalty.
The mere accusation of blasphemy has the potential to spark riots and incite violence, leading to lynching and killings.
A tragic example of this occurred last year when a Sri Lankan factory manager accused of blasphemy was brutally tortured to death by a mob of hundreds.
Christians, who account for approximately 2% of the population in Pakistan, hold one of the lowest positions in society.
They are often unjustly accused of blasphemy, which can be used as a means to settle personal grudges. The issue of blasphemy is frequently exploited by Islamist right-wing leaders and political parties across the country.
The consequences of these accusations have been severe, with politicians being assassinated, European countries threatened with nuclear annihilation, and students lynched.
Earlier, christian woman Asia Bibi faced a prolonged blasphemy controversy in Pakistan, resulting in her death sentence being overturned and eventually being permitted to leave the country.
The case of Asia Bibi ignited widespread protests and led to prominent assassinations, shedding light on the prevalence of religious extremism in various sectors of Pakistani society.
An appeal from Swarajya
At Swarajya, we rely on our readers' support through subscriptions to sustain our media platform. Unlike larger conglomerates, we are unable to relentlessly chase advertising money — our model is largely built on your patronage.
Your support has never been more crucial. We work tirelessly to deliver 10-15 high-quality articles daily, ensuring you receive insightful content from 7 AM to 10 PM.
If you believe India's story has to be articulated in a way it has never been done before without shrugging it off, become a patron (or) subscribe now for ₹̶2̶4̶0̶0̶ ₹1999 and get 12 print issues, unlimited digital access for 1 year, a special India that is Bharat T-shirt (Offer ends soon).
We are counting on you!