Several Churches Vandalised In Pakistan's Punjab Province After Christian Family Accused Of Blasphemy

The Salvation Army Church, United Presbyterian Church, Allied Foundation Church and Shehroonwala Church in Faisalabad were ransacked, local media and authorities confirmed.

Viral photos of churches being vandalised shared on social media

At least four churches were vandalised in Pakistan's Punjab province on Wednesday over blasphemy allegations. Bibles were allegedly desecrated and Christians were allegedly harassed over the incident. The house of a Christian cleaner, who was accused of making blasphemous remarks about the Quran, was also demolished.

According to Imran Bhatti, the pastor of the Jaranwala tehsil, as quoted by Pakistani media website, the Salvation Army Church, United Presbyterian Church, Allied Foundation Church and Shehroonwala Church in the Isa Nagri area in the Jaranwala district of Faisalabad were ransacked. 

Videos and pictures were doing rounds on social media showing churches ransacked and torched by the angry mob. In one of the videos, an agitator was seen taking down the Christian cross from the roof of a church.

Punjab police chief Usman Anwar said the police were negotiating with the protesters and the area had been cordoned off. He said that they were engaging with peace committees to contain the situation and police across the province were activated.

"The assistant commissioner of the area, a member of the Christian community, has also been evacuated after people turned against him,” the police chief added.

However, Christian leaders took to social media platforms alleging that police remained silent spectators.

“A church building is being burnt as I type this message. Bibles have been desecrated and Christians have been tortured and harassed having been falsely accused of violating the Holy Quran,” said President Bishop of the Church of Pakistan Azad Marshall in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

"We cry out for justice and action from law enforcement and those who dispense justice and the safety of all citizens to intervene immediately and assure us that our lives are valuable in our own homeland that has just celebrated independence and freedom,” he wrote, adding that all priests, bishops and lay people were “deeply pained and distressed” by the incident.

Former senator Afrasiab Khattak condemned the incident and demanded that the culprits should be brought to book.

"Pakistani state has failed to provide security to the worship places of people who follow religions other than Islam. Impunity to the crimes committed in the name of religion has emboldened extremists and terrorists,” he said.