‘We cry out for justice’: Churches in Faisalabad vandalized, sparks condemnations and calls for action

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After the news of vandalized churches in Faisalabad spread on social media, there was an outpouring of shock, horror, and demands for justice.

Faisalabad witnessed a dark day on Wednesday, as multiple churches in Jaranwala were set ablaze. The incident is alleged to have been prompted by an act of blasphemy, although the truth behind these allegations is still unknown.

The nation and the rest of the world were exposed to images of crowds armed with sticks and rocks, storming through the streets with smoke rising from the church buildings. This led to widespread condemnations and calls for immediate action.

President Bishop of the Church of Pakistan Azad Marshall wrote on a social media platform, “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 expressed deep pain and distress on behalf of all priests, bishops, and others affected by the incident.

The newly appointed interim Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar expressed his gut-wrenching reaction to the visuals from Jaranwala and assured stern action against the violators of the law targeting minorities. He instructed law enforcement agencies to apprehend the culprits and bring them to justice, emphasizing that the government stood with all citizens on an equal basis.

PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif, the former prime minister, also issued a condemnation. He reminded everyone that the Christian community had shed blood and voted for the formation of Pakistan, and their sacrifices should not go in vain. He demanded strict actions against those who violated the law, highlighting that such acts of vandalism were against the teachings of Islam and the Constitution. Shehbaz urged scholars and religious leaders to condemn these incidents.

The PTI expressed regret over the attack on minorities and held the administration, state machinery, and police responsible for the incident. They demanded a comprehensive investigation by the Punjab government.

Former human rights minister Shireen Mazari called the incident “absolutely shameful and condemnable” and questioned the absence of law enforcers in protecting the Christian community and their churches.

Numerous other politicians and activists, including Rana Sanaullah, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Marriyum Aurangzeb, Sherry Rehman, Afrasiab Khattak, and Sarfaraz Bughti, condemned the attack and demanded concrete actions to protect religious minorities and their places of worship.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) condemned the assault on Christian families and their places of worship, urging the government to quickly identify and punish the perpetrators. They also called for the formation of special police forces to safeguard religious minority sites.

Amnesty International expressed distress over the incident, raising concerns about blasphemy laws being used to target individuals and cause property damage. They emphasized the need to protect the right to life, freedom of thought, conscience, religion, and expression.

The Pakistan Ulema Council (PUC) and International Interfaith Harmony Council (IIHC) issued a joint statement, highlighting the shared responsibility of protecting worship places and residences of all communities.

The incident in Faisalabad has shocked the nation, and there is a collective demand for justice, protection of minorities, and a peaceful coexistence of all religious communities in Pakistan.

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