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Enraged Muslims in Pakistan Burn and Loot 5 Christian Churches

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Enraged Muslims in Pakistan Burn and Loot 5 Christian Churches

An irate mob vandalised three churches in eastern Pakistan on Wednesday over blasphemy claims, prompting officials to summon in the paramilitary Rangers and apply Section 144. The angry mob destroyed at least five churches and plundered goods from peoples houses after clerics made inciting remarks in mosques.

Social media images showed smoke billowing from the church buildings and people setting fire to furnishings hauled from them. A Christian cemetery and the local government office were both vandalised. Dozens of people also blocked a nearby motorway.

According to Dawn.com,  Jaranwala pastor Imran Bhatti, the ransacked churches in the Isa Nagri region included the Salvation Army Church, United Presbyterian Church, Allied Foundation Church, and Shehroonwala Church.

He went on to say that the mob also demolished the home of a Christian cleaner who was accused of blasphemy.

Meanwhile, the police filed a first information report against the accused under Pakistan Penal Code sections 295B (defiling, etc., of the Holy Quran) and 295C (use of disparaging comments, etc., in regard of the Holy Prophet).

The Punjab government issued directions for a “high-level inquiry” into the incident and arrests late last night, according to a press release.

The provincial government blamed the event on a “planned conspiracy to destroy peace in Pakistan.” It stated that the “Holy Quran was desecrated and Muslim sentiments were hurt.”

Enraged Muslims in Pakistan Burn and Loot 5 Christian Churches

According to the Dawn.com, mosques made statements that action was being taken against the suspected sacrilege of the Holy Quran, but the situation had deteriorated by then. It went on to say that while the police and administration acted quickly, statements were made in mosques that the authorities were taking action, but tensions had already risen owing to the suspected desecration.

“Around 5,000 to 6,000 people gathered in different areas of Jaranwala in various groups, attempting to attack minority settlements.” The police foiled their attempts in multiple locations, and damage to several buildings was also avoided owing to prompt response,” according to the press release. “However, attempts to attack Christian settlements in various areas continued, and police continued to protect these areas.”

According to the statement, a peace committee was quickly formed and, along with members from other political parties, denounced the occurrence. They also stated that no party was in favour of causing damage to any of the minority communities’ properties.

According to the press statement, no one was killed in the incident, and police have made over 100 arrests thus far. Furthermore, it was stated that film from the incidents was being evaluated using scientific means, and that the Rangers had also been called to the scene.

“Large contingents of police remain deployed in several areas and continue to perform their duties,” according to the press release, which also stated that security was provided “to all places of worship.”

Enraged Muslims in Pakistan Burn and Loot 5 Christian Churches

According to the report, the Faisalabad commissioner and other authorities were present near Jaranwala. A notification from the deputy commissioner’s office, section 144 was enforced in the Faisalabad district for seven days owing to the “prevailing overall security situation.”

The provision of the Criminal Procedure Code authorises the district administration to issue orders in the public interest that may prohibit an activity for a set length of time.

Earlier that night, a spokeswoman for Punjab Chief Secretary Imtiazul Hassan told Dawn.com that the Rangers had been dispatched to the area.

He said that the provincial chief secretary and Punjab police chief Usman Anwar were on the scene and that the “situation was under control.”

Anwar had earlier stated that the police were “negotiating” with the demonstrators and that the area had been blocked off.

“There are narrow alleyways [in the area] with modest two to three marla churches and one big church… “They have vandalised parts of the churches,” he told Dawn.com.

According to the official, attempts were underway to manage the situation by collaborating with peace committees and activating police across the province. So far, no arrests have occurred.

Enraged Muslims in Pakistan Burn and Loot 5 Christian Churches

“The assistant commissioner of the area, a member of the Christian community, has also been evacuated after people turned against him,” Anwar continued.

Christian leaders, on the other hand, claimed that the police stood by and did nothing.

Later that evening, newly appointed temporary Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar stated that those who break the law and attack minorities would face harsh punishment.

“All law enforcement has been asked to apprehend perpetrators and bring them to justice,” he tweeted on X (previously Twitter), adding that the administration supported “our citizenry on an equal basis.”

Earlier, President Bishop of the Church of Pakistan Azad Marshall wrote on X (previously Twitter) that Bibles had been desecrated and Christians had been beaten and persecuted “after being falsely accused of violating the Holy Quran.”

“We cry out for justice and action from law enforcement and those who dispense justice and ensure the safety of all citizens to intervene immediately and assure us that our lives are valuable in our own homeland, which has just celebrated independence and freedom,” he demanded.

Bishop Marshall went on to say that the episode had “deeply pained and distressed” all priests, bishops, and lay persons.

 

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