Christians Persecuted in Pakistan

There is a deafening media silence over the regular, brutal persecution of Christians in heavily Muslim Pakistan. This has been going on for decades, but a major incident last month highlighted the twin problems of the genocidal violence itself and the liberal Western media's refusal to cover it.

Hundreds of Christians fled their homes on August 16 when, in the eastern Pakistani district capital of Jaranwala, Muslim mobs started an anti-Christian riot, vandalizing churches and setting churches and Christians' homes on fire -- all based just on an accusation that a Quran had been desecrated.

At least 20 churches throughout the city were set on fire and more than 400 homes belonging to Christians damaged. The rioters attacked and vandalized a Christian cemetery and burned the office of the Christian assistant commissioner of Jaranwala.

The violence began after word spread from calls on mosque minarets that desecrated pages of the Quran had been discovered outside the home of a Christian family. Several thousand enraged Muslims assembled in the city centre and began throwing stones at the churches, while others set them on fire. Videos and photos of the violence were shared on social media.

At least 19 churches were fully burned, 89 Christian homes destroyed -- including those of pastors and priests -- and 15 homes partially destroyed, according to a report from Human Rights Focus Pakistan (HRFP).

Faraz Pervaiz, a Christian Pakistani asylum-seeker who fled to Thailand after being accused in Pakistan of blasphemy for criticizing political Islam, has been reporting on the riots through his sources on the ground.

Pervaiz relates:

"Two Christian individuals are accused of desecrating the Quran. People are demanding life imprisonment, but the accusation is false. They have done nothing. The accusation was fabricated by an Islamist group, Tehreek-e-Labbaik.

"On August 16, 2023 a woman carrying these documents with torn pages of Quran knocked the door of Raja and Rocky, later be accused of blasphemy. When they opened the door, the woman started shouting at the family and accusing them that you have desecrated the Quran. The family was shocked. Meanwhile this woman started making loud noises to wake the people up. 'Raja and Rocky has committed blasphemy,' she was shouting, 'and you Muslims are sleeping!'

"The accused family rushed out. They knew that Islamists are not going to inquire fairly but if they were captured, would sever their heads. The escaping family started informing their friends that they had done nothing but still they were being exposed to these allegations. The news spread like fire and every single Christian left their house to save themselves from injury or death.

"A few hours later the radical Islamic group started announcements through the mosques that 'Raja and Rocky has blasphemed against the Quran and Muhammad so it is time to send them to hell.'"

The Muslim mobs then started attacking Christian homes and churches; the Christians fled and slept outside to avoid being burned alive, Pervaiz said.

"Christians are sleeping under open sky now. They are helpless. They get no support from any organization or the Government. They get no food support, and no new shelter is provided. They are starving. They are too scared to go back to their homes. They fear being killed.

" The police were helping the perpetrators and the vigilantes. There was no military intervention to stop the attacks.

"The newly elected Prime Minister of Pakistan has condemned the incidents, but Christians need help, which he could have provided. But he did not because he knew that entire Muslim community would stand against him."

Under Pakistan's blasphemy laws, one can be sentenced to death for speaking out against Islam or its prophet Mohammed. Pervaiz has several fatwas, Islamic rulings, against him, calling for him to be killed.

Islamist parties and average Muslims, often with the consent of the government, take the law into their own hands to punish those who are even just accused, often unjustly, of having violated those laws.