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Church Vandalized and Set Ablaze in Pakistan Faisalabad District Amid Blasphemy Allegations

Faisalabad, Punjab Province, Pakistan – In a distressing incident that highlights the ongoing plight of religious minorities in Pakistan, a church was vandalized and set ablaze in the Faisalabad district of Punjab province. The incident, which occurred following allegations of blasphemy, has drawn condemnation from both local and international communities.


VIDEO COURTESY: INDIA TODAY




Lahore-based Bishop Azad Marshall took to social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, to express his anguish over the incident. "Words fail me as I write this. We, Bishops, Priests, and lay people are deeply pained and distressed at the Jaranwala incident in the Faisalabad District in Pakistan," Bishop Marshall posted. He went on to describe the grim scene, stating, "A church building is being burnt as I type this message. Bibles have been desecrated and Christians have been tortured and harassed having been falsely accused of violating the Holy Quran."


Bishop Marshall called for justice and swift action against those responsible for the attack. He urged authorities to ensure the safety of all citizens and underscored the value of their lives in their own homeland, which had recently celebrated independence and freedom.


Despite Pakistan's founding principles of tolerance and equality when it gained independence in 1947, religious minorities have faced persistent discrimination. According to Naveed Walter, the President of Human Rights Focus Pakistan, the population of minorities in the country has drastically decreased from 23 percent to a mere 3 percent since independence.


Walter attributed this decline to various factors, including constitutional amendments introduced in the 1980s under the leadership of dictator Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, which incorporated elements of Sharia law into the constitution. The introduction of the blasphemy law has disproportionately targeted religious minorities, leading to deaths and incarcerations across the nation.


This alarming trend continues, as exemplified by the recent case of Noman Masih, a 22-year-old Christian youth who was sentenced to death on blasphemy charges by a local court in Bahawalpur. The verdict sent shockwaves throughout Pakistan and sparked renewed debate over the implications of the blasphemy law.


The incident in Faisalabad district serves as a stark reminder of the challenges faced by religious minorities in Pakistan and calls attention to the urgent need for reform and protection of their rights. As the nation grapples with its complex sociopolitical landscape, international observers and advocates continue to monitor the situation closely, urging a commitment to upholding fundamental human rights for all citizens.

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