You may have heard of the religious violence in Pakistan, where on 16 August (after the alleged desecration of the Holy Quran by a Christian) churches, pastor houses, bibles and eighty-six Christian homes were burnt and damaged in 9 different areas of Jarhanwala, about 2 hours journey from Lahore.
Here is the link to the tweet of the Moderator of the Church of Pakistan, The Rt Rev Azad Marshal, who happens to be the bishop of my home Diocese of Raiwind:
Words fail me as I write this. We, Bishops, Priests and lay people are deeply pained and distressed at the Jaranwala incident in the Faisalabad District in Pakistan. A church building is being burnt as I type this message. Bibles have been desecrated and Christians have been… pic.twitter.com/xruE83NPXL— Bishop Azad Marshall (@BishopAzadM) August 16, 2023
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It is extremely painful to read such news and see the Christian community in Pakistan suffer. Sadly, the violence against Christians and minorities in Pakistan has been increasing for some time now. This latest incident of false accusations and violence has shocked Pakistani Christians all around the globe. The people are now in desperate need of practical help. They have lost homes, places of worship, important documents and now live in the constant fear of being attacked again. Growing up in Pakistan, I never had to live in fear for my life, so I can’t even imagine how Christians are feeling at this time. Please pray for the release from the fear of reattack and strength in this situation.
Pakistani Christian leaders in Pakistan and UK are urging the High Commissioner in London and the Government of Pakistan to take practical steps, to not only resolve the tragic situation of violence due to religious discrimination but also to prevent it from happening in future. I joined a delegation that met the Pakistani High Commissioner, who presented the following suggestions:
- Eliminate extremism from law, education, and media.
- Review laws on inciting religious hatred, including penalties for desecrating the sacred books of all religions.
- Urgent administrative and legal measures to prevent misuse of blasphemy laws, including penalties for false accusations.
- Penalties for inciters and perpetrators of mob violence, perhaps under terrorism laws.
- Short-term compensation for victims, churches etc. and long-term inclusion through Positive Discrimination.
- Speedy assistance with the recovery of legal and educational documents.
Despite the government of Pakistan, Islamic scholars and the Pakistani media condemning the violence and promising to rebuild and rehabilitate, change will take time to materialise and these promises have been made before. To provide immediate relief, a fundraising page has been set up, and I hope you and your church would feel able to contribute financially.
Please pass this link to your contacts directly and do not share on social media.
You may like to raise this with your MP. If so, please use the information in this article and request them to raise it with the UK Government and the Foreign Office, urging the Government of Pakistan to ensure the safety of Churches, Christians, minorities, their lives and properties.
If you would like more information or how to help, please contact Archdeacon Javaid Iqbal on 07782169987 or email email@example.com
Thank you for supporting your Christian sisters and brothers.