After a violent attack on more than 15 churches in Eastern Pakistan, please pray with your brothers and sisters as they endure yet more violence.
Christians in Pakistan are asking for urgent prayer after a mob of Muslim extremists attacked a Christian community and burned down several churches and homes.
The mob violence took place in Jaranwala city in the Faisalabad district of Punjab province after two Christians were accused of blasphemy.
Hundreds of men stormed the community, attacking churches, setting homes on fire, and even destroying a cemetery. Early media and human rights groups estimates say that at least 8 churches were burned – along with multiple homes and Bibles – and 17 churches were targeted. Christians in the community were forced to run for their lives.
“The attacks have been fierce and unrelenting. Hate speeches and announcements from mosques were broadcasted all over Jaranwala,” says Peter*, a local believer. “In the blink of an eye, the mob went from 100 people at one location to 4 000 people at various Christian [communities] all over Jaranwala and nearby locations.”
Video from the National Commission for Human Rights in Pakistan shows the aftermath of the violence on a Salvation Army church:
— National Commission for
Human Rights (@nchrofficial) August
Accusations of blasphemy are often made to target and oppress minority groups in Pakistan – even an accusation can result in mob violence. “The frequency and scale of such attacks –which are systematic, violent and often uncontainable – appear to have increased in the last several years,” the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan told Reuters.
In addition to global prayer, Open Doors is calling on the international community to speak out about the dangerous situation for Christians in Pakistan. “No one should live life in fear of an unruly mob that comes to destroy and kill,” says Open Doors’ global advocacy team. “We call on the international community to work with the government of Pakistan to build concrete plans to address the mob mentality brutally demonstrated against Christians in Pakistan.”
Local believers are suspicious about the timing of the blasphemy accusations. The First Investigation Report (FIR) was filed with police just hours before the violence began. “It is no coincidence that mosques around the city started broadcasting hate speeches, which led to mob attacks all over the city,” says an activist from a local church plant. “How did all the mosques get a hold of this information? How were they able to assemble so many people if there was no advanced planning? No one is answering our questions! But we will wait for justice.”
An affected Christian leader, who cannot be named for security reasons, said: “This is a case of planned persecution towards us as a minority. If the accusers were emotionally charged and were unable to control themselves from attacking places of worship or houses of the victims, how then were they able to register an FIR before or even almost near the time of the attack?”
The day after the attack, 146 people were arrested by Pakistani authorities as they began to investigate the situation. Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar wrote on X (formerly known as Twitter) that “stern action would be taken against those who violate law and target minorities. All law enforcement has been asked to apprehend culprits & bring them to justice.”
In the meantime, our brothers and sisters are asking us to urgently pray for the situation.
Here’s how you can pray:
- Pray for the people in the Christian community who are left to rebuild their homes and churches.
- Ask that God will bind up their wounds and give them comfort.
- Pray for the people accused of blasphemy, which can carry a death sentence under Pakistani law.
- Pray they would be treated fairly and false accusations would be thrown away.
- Pray for peace and justice to come to the region, that the authorities would treat the mob as equal under the law and won’t simply ignore the devastation they caused.
- Pray for Pakistani Christians, who live under the injustice of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws and now witness yet another violent incident caused by a mere accusation.
- Pray for safety for Christians across Pakistan, that they would be protected from attack.
- Pray for those forced to flee their homes, that they would find safety and know they aren’t alone.
*Name changed for security reasons.