Attack on Church in Faisalabad, Pakistan After Blasphemy Accusations
Attack on Church in Faisalabad, Pakistan After Blasphemy Accusations

Faisalabad: Another distressing incident targeting religious minorities has occurred in Pakistan, as a church was vandalized and set on fire in the Faisalabad district. Bishop Azad Marshall, based in Lahore, reported the incident. The assault on the church took place due to allegations of blasphemy, leading to the destruction of the place of worship in the Punjab province's Faisalabad district.

Expressing his profound distress, Bishop Marshall shared his thoughts on the incident via X (formerly Twitter), saying, "Words evade me as I pen down this message. Bishops, Priests, and lay individuals are profoundly saddened and anguished by the events in Jaranwala, Faisalabad District, Pakistan." He further conveyed, "Even as I type this, a church building is being engulfed in flames. Bibles have been desecrated, and Christians, falsely accused of violating the Holy Quran, have endured torment and persecution."

Bishop Marshall passionately called for justice and swift action against those responsible for the attack. He earnestly appealed for the safety of the citizens, emphasizing the need to assure them that their lives hold immense value in their own homeland, especially following the recent celebration of independence and freedom.

Despite Pakistan's founding principles in 1947, aimed at establishing a tolerant and inclusive nation, religious communities have continued to grapple with discrimination. Naveed Walter, President of Human Rights Focus Pakistan, recently noted that the minority population in Pakistan has dwindled from 23 percent to a mere 3 percent since the country's independence.

Walter highlighted that multiple factors have contributed to this decline. Notably, Pakistan's declaration as an Islamic state played a significant role. The introduction of Islam as the state religion and various constitutional amendments in the 1973 constitution, such as specifying the President and Prime Minister must be Muslim, have had lasting repercussions. Amendments influenced by Sharia law were introduced during the 1980s, under the regime of Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq.

Walter, a human rights advocate, asserted that the blasphemy law was implemented to target religious minorities. Tragically, numerous individuals have lost their lives, and many have languished in prisons throughout Pakistan since the enactment of this law. Notably, in June, a local court in Bahawalpur sentenced a 22-year-old Christian youth, Noman Masih, to death on blasphemy charges, causing significant shockwaves across Pakistan. Various human rights activists and organizations strongly condemned the verdict.

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