Christians in Pakistan Hold Service After Attack

Last week, Pakistani Christians gathered for services in churches that had been vandalized by a vigilante mob, following allegations against two Christian brothers of desecrating the Koran.

Akmal Bhatti, a Christian community leader, mentioned that the bishop of the diocese led a few services in certain churches located in Jaranwala, an eastern Pakistani city, on Sunday.

Attending one of these Sunday services, I witnessed hundreds of Christians whose homes had been either partially or completely destroyed during the mob’s actions of burning and looting on the previous Wednesday.

Rasikh Bibi, one of the victims affected by the violence, questioned the mob’s actions, saying, “If the mob was so furious, why did they burn down our homes and steal our belongings? Isn’t burning the Bible also a form of blasphemy?”

Currently residing with her brothers in a nearby village, Bibi visits the site every morning in the hope of salvaging supplies. She lamented the loss of her jewelry, which her husband had given her.

Kiran Masih, another victim, attended the church service to pray for patience. She expressed a sense of helplessness, asking, “What else can we seek? What else remains for us?”

The provincial government released a statement on Sunday, announcing compensation of two million rupees ($6,750) for each family affected by the mob’s actions.

Paramilitary forces are now guarding the locations of the arson attacks in Jaranwala, Punjab province. These locations include the historic Salvation Army Church, St. Paul’s Catholic Church, three small churches, and several houses.

Residents and community leaders reported the desecration of a Christian cemetery. During the mob’s rampage, armed with iron rods, sticks, bricks, and daggers, there was no intervention from the police or administration officials, who were present at the scene for over 10 hours.

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