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Pakistan: A Christian Community Struggles to Survive

For information about the Orthodox Mission in Pakistan, see here.

For previous ChristianPersecution.com coverage of the persecution of Christians in Pakistan, see here.

“Peril in Pakistan: A Christian Community’s Struggle to Survive,” International Christian Concern, October 12, 2023:

10/12/2023 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – Much of the world was shocked by the nightmare that descended on a Christian community in Pakistan this August. The dust has long settled, and the world has all but moved on. Yet hundreds of Christian families and pastors are still picking up the pieces, trying to regain a foothold in the world that they lost. And we are there to help them.

The tranquility of the quiet, Christian suburb of Faisalabad, Pakistan was shattered when 5,000 radical Muslims descended upon Jaranwala in a rampage. They set 26 churches ablaze, along with 196 homes, and many businesses. The scale of destruction is difficult to fathom, and it was a stark reminder of the precarious situation faced by Christians and other religious minorities in Pakistan.

The uproar began when a Muslim man, driven by malice, made a false blasphemy charge against a Christian teen. It was a petty dispute over a business transaction that spiraled into a nightmare. The allegation was the spark, but the dry tinder of communal tension had been growing far too long.

Word of the blasphemy charge quickly spread beyond the boundaries of Jaranwala.

Angry mobs from afar descended upon the community with a fervor that defied reason. Witnesses recounted the chilling sight of men on motorcycles, laden with flammable materials, setting homes, churches, and businesses ablaze. The streets that once echoed with hymns and prayers now bore witness to an inferno fueled by intolerance.

The attackers’ rage went beyond the false blasphemy charge; it was a collective belief by some that Christians were undermining Pakistan’s identity as a Muslim nation. Many among the mob were not even familiar with Jaranwala, but they came to destroy it. Others believed that Christians were undermining Pakistan’s identity as a Muslim nation.

The government has promised relief and began to distribute checks to Christians to offset their losses. It certainly won’t be enough to rebuild their homes. More than 100 attackers were arrested in a nod to justice.

We asked two members of our team to give their assessment of the destruction. Here were their responses:

WHAT WAS IT LIKE WHEN YOU FIRST ARRIVED ON THE SCENE?

Ginger: I arrived at the scene 22 hours after the unjust vandalism had taken place. My first stop was at Essa Nagri. What I encountered was a scene of profound devastation. Every item within the homes had been reduced to ashes or torn into unrecognizable pieces. From ceiling fans to toilet seats, no object had been spared from the relentless flames. The air still bore the scent of the chemicals that had been used in the destruction.

As I entered the churches, the extent of the damage became even more heart-wrenching. Bibles, symbols of faith, had been ruthlessly set ablaze. Carpets, chairs, fans, and even electrical sockets lay shattered and broken, a testament to the senseless destruction that had unfolded within these sacred places of worship.

In Christian Town, which incidentally is the hometown of the accused, the scene was different. The area was heavily fortified with a notable presence of police and rangers. Makeshift tents had been erected to block off access to the streets, effectively keeping the media and outsiders at bay. It was a considerable challenge to gain entry.

Once inside, I found that the houses were vacant. The inhabitants fled, seeking safety from the chaos that had descended on their lives. Only a handful of male residents remained. Their tears and expressions mirrored the sheer horror of seeing their cherished residences reduced to smoldering ruins.

Ironically, during my visit to Christian Town, I crossed paths with some Muslim individuals. The expressions on their faces spoke volumes about their emotions; they seemed unmistakably proud of their actions, wearing their perceived “achievement” as a badge of honor.

Oscar: When we went to the affected area, the place looked like burnt-out ruins. The voices of people screaming and shouting could be heard, and the view was no less than any hell….

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