Accusations of Blasphemy Spark Attacks on Churches in Pakistan’s Punjab Province

In a distressing incident, tensions between local Muslim and minority Christian communities in Pakistan’s Punjab province escalated as a crowd vandalized and set ablaze eight churches and several homes following accusations of blasphemy against Islam. The situation, described by the National Commission for Human Rights as “sad and shameful,” reflects a recurring issue where Pakistani Christian communities are targeted by the country’s strict blasphemy laws.

According to a police report, two Christian men were charged with “desecrating the holy Quran and abusing the Prophet Mohammed,” resulting in their booking under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. These laws have historically been manipulated to persecute minorities and isolate them from public life.

Yasir Talib from the Centre for Social Justice reported that a crowd vandalized and set fire to the home of a Christian man accused of making blasphemous comments against Islam. Furthermore, multiple churches, including the town’s Catholic Church, the Salvation Army Church, the Pentecostal Church, and the local Christian colony, were also vandalized and set ablaze.

Pakistan’s caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar condemned the violence and promised stern action against violators of the law targeting minorities. The President Bishop for the Church of Pakistan Azad Marshall called for justice and action, highlighting the desecration of Bibles and the false accusations faced by Christians.

The incident highlights the vulnerability of religious minorities in Pakistan and draws attention to the importance of respecting the rule of law and promoting tolerance of diversity. Blasphemy remains a punishable crime by death sentence in Pakistan, and previous incidents have underscored the urgent need for addressing this sensitive issue and ensuring justice prevails.

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