Vandalization in Faisalabad: Multiple churches in Jaranwala tehsil were vandalized following blasphemy allegations, with a Christian cleaner’s home also demolished amid rising tensions.
Police and Administrative Response: While authorities have initiated legal action against the accused and cordoned off the affected areas, Christian leaders accuse law enforcement of passive observation. Requests for additional security deployment are under consideration.
Community Outcry: Church of Pakistan’s President Bishop Azad Marshall and former senator Afrasiab Khattak express profound distress and demand immediate intervention and justice, emphasizing the state’s responsibility to protect all its citizens.
Faisalabad, Pakistan: Several churches in the Jaranwala tehsil of Faisalabad were vandalized on Wednesday amidst rising tensions over blasphemy allegations, according to local officials.
Pastor Imran Bhatti of the Jaranwala tehsil informed The Islamabad Telegraph about the targeted churches, including the Salvation Army Church, United Presbyterian Church, Allied Foundation Church, and Shehroonwala Church, all located in the Isa Nagri district. The residence of a Christian cleaner, accused of blasphemy, was also demolished.
Authorities have lodged a first information report against the accused, referencing sections 295B and 295C of the Pakistan Penal Code, which pertain to acts of desecration against the Holy Quran and derogatory remarks about the Holy Prophet, respectively.
Punjab police chief, Usman Anwar, reported ongoing negotiations with the protesters and confirmed the area’s cordoning. Describing the local landscape, Anwar mentioned the “narrow lanes housing small churches, with portions of these places of worship now vandalized.” The province-wide police force has been mobilized to manage and deescalate the situation.
Anwar added, “The assistant commissioner, a member of the Christian community, had to be evacuated due to rising hostilities against him.”
However, Christian leaders accuse the police of passive observation during these acts of violence.
Punjab’s Home Department spokesperson, Amjad Kalyar, revealed that they are deliberating on a request to deploy the Rangers for added security in the affected area.
Church of Pakistan’s President Bishop Azad Marshall spoke to the press about the desecration of Bibles and the harassment of Christians. Expressing his anguish, Bishop Marshall implored, “We seek immediate intervention from law enforcement and justice authorities. Our lives must be recognized as valuable in our homeland that just celebrated its independence and freedom.”
Marshall also conveyed the deep distress felt within the church community regarding the incident.
Former senator Afrasiab Khattak echoed these sentiments, condemning the act and stressing that those responsible be held accountable. Khattak criticized the state’s inability to safeguard non-Muslim places of worship, stating that unchecked religious crimes have only “emboldened extremists and terrorists.”