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Muslim mob torches 178 Christian homes i...

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Muslim mob torches 178 Christian homes in Pakistan over blasphemy claim

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Muslim mob torches 178 Christian homes in Pakistan over blasphemy claim

Project(s): 00-345

Country/Region: South and East Asia, Pakistan

We are facing the punishment of being Christians in Pakistan.

Shamim, whose home was destroyed in the attack

Hundreds of Christians have been left homeless in Pakistan after a 3,000-strong mob of Muslims torched their houses and shops and a church over a false blasphemy accusation against a Christian man.

Attackers add fuel to the fire, destroying another Christian home
Attackers add fuel to the fire, destroying another Christian home

The Christians of Joseph Colony in the Badami Bagh area of Lahore had fled in fear of their lives ahead of the violence on Saturday (9 March), after hearing calls from the mosque loudspeakers that urged Muslims to “kill the blasphemers”.

They were incited to attack the poor Christian neighbourhood in response to a complaint brought against Sawan Masih the previous day by a local Muslim, who said that the Christian had made derogatory remarks against Muhammad.

The mob attacked Sawan’s home and also broke into the properties of other Christian families, looting their goods before setting the houses on fire. A total of 178 houses and 75 shops were destroyed, leaving hundreds of Christians homeless and with nothing. Bibles were also burnt.

One of the victims, Aslam Masih (65), told one of our local project partners that it had taken him many years to save up to enable his two daughters to get married next month. He now cannot afford to buy a single meal for his family. Through tears, he said, “This incident has made us paupers”.  

The attackers could not find Sawan but did catch and severely beat his father, Chaman Masih.

The destruction of the Christian community is brazenly celebrated
The destruction of the Christian community is brazenly celebrated

The police placated the mob by registering a blasphemy case against Sawan under section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code, which prescribes the death penalty for defiling the name of Muhammad. Chaman was also taken into custody.

The alleged “blasphemy” incident took place on the night of 7 March during an exchange between Sawan, who is married with three children, and his Muslim friend.

Barnabas Fund is working with local partners on plans to help the homeless Christians of Joseph Colony rebuild their lives. 

The Pakistani authorities have made a strong response to the anti-Christian violence. President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf have ordered an inquiry; the Punjab government has announced that the Christians will be compensated for their losses and that cases against the perpetrators will be prosecuted. Around 150 suspects have been arrested.  

It remains to be seen, however, if firm action will be taken and promised help will be forthcoming. The incident is reminiscent of the burning of 60 Christian homes in Gojra in 2009 in which eight Christians were killed. Nobody has yet been convicted in connection with that attack.

And hundreds of Christians who were driven from their homes in Maherabad following a false blasphemy accusation against vulnerable Christian teenager Rimsha Masih last August have still not been able to return home.   

Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director of Barnabas Fund, said:

Once again, an entire Christian community in Pakistan has been ravaged and destroyed by Islamic extremists over an unsubstantiated blasphemy allegation. It is welcome news that these helpless Christian families will receive state compensation, but they are likely to need further support from their brothers and sisters elsewhere. Barnabas Fund will be standing with them in the weeks and months ahead as they try to rebuild their shattered lives.

Give Today:

If you would like to help the Christian families who have been affected by this incident, please send a donation to the Victims of Violence Fund (project 00-345). using our secure server.

If you prefer to telephone, dial: 0800 587 4006 from within the UK or +44 1672 565031 from outside the UK. Please quote project reference Victims of Violence Fund (project 00-345).

If you prefer to send a cheque by post: Click this link for the address of our regional office. Please quote project reference Victims of Violence Fund (project 00-345).

For a quick donation of £3.00 by SMS (see terms and conditions here) text Barnabas/345 to 70007 (Please note: This facility is presently only available to UK supporters).

Resources

There is a poster for download to advertise this emergency here and a PowerPoint slide for your church notices is available here.

Please Pray:
  • For all the Christian families who have lost their homes, shops and possessions in this traumatic incident. Pray that they will be given the practical, spiritual and emotional support they need to recover.
  • For Sawan Masih and Chaman Masih, that the Lord will watch over them and protect them from those intent on their harm. 
  • That the Pakistani authorities will deliver on their pledges to provide compensation to the victims and pursue the offenders through the justice system. 
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Daily prayer

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  • Cry out to the Lord for Christians in the Central African Republic (CAR) who have been driven from their homes by the violence that has engulfed their country. Attacks by Islamist Séléka militants and retaliation from “anti-balaka” militias has generated a huge humanitarian crisis in which around two million people, many of them Christians, are in need of emergency assistance. Give thanks for the work of Barnabas partners who have been providing food rations to hundreds of displaced believers in the capital, Bangui, and distributing food, medicines, clothing and seeds to thousands in various regions. Pray that the aid will reach those who need it most, and that the Lord will comfort the relatives and friends of the thousands who have been killed in the fighting. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 22 hours ago

  • “Jesus Christ performed tremendous miracles in all our lives through this Shalom Camp.” A pastor spoke of how God had worked through a Barnabas-sponsored weekend Bible camp for persecuted Christians in Sri Lanka. The camp was attended by believers from five different churches that had been the target of threats or attacks by Buddhist or Hindu extremists. The participants heard teaching on the Biblical basis for persecution and took part in group discussions; they came away refreshed and encouraged, and for many the camp was a time of great spiritual renewal. Give thanks to the Lord for the peace He has brought to these persecuted believers, and ask that the weekend will continue to bear much fruit in their lives. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Wed, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Pray for a church leader in Sri Lanka, S.S. Johnpillai, who was threatened at gunpoint by attackers who claimed to be Special Forces officers. The minister was in a hut next to his church building in Guadalupe, Trincomolee when, he said, the men “appeared out of nowhere”. The intruders put a gun to Johnpillai’s head and accused him of holding a Communion service in honour of the founder of the Tamil Tigers, the government’s opponents in the country’s long and bloody civil war. The government had that day made it a criminal offence to commemorate the group. The gunmen ignored Johnpillai’s protests that he had not dedicated Communion to the group’s founder, and they threatened to shoot him. Ask the Lord to support and strengthen Johnpillai as he recovers from this terrifying ordeal. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Tue, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Lift up to the Lord persecuted Christians in Sri Lanka, where at least 65 anti-Christian incidents took place during 2013, including repeat attacks on several believers and their property in October 2013. However, a Sri Lankan government minister from a Buddhist nationalist party denied the accounts, saying that they might be “made up”. The minister claimed that Sri Lankans are “one family … trying to live together after a long civil war”. Pray that the Sri Lankan government will recognise the danger that our brothers and sisters face from militant Buddhists and that the authorities will provide effective protection for vulnerable Christians. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Mon, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Condemned Christian mother Aasia Bibi’s final appeal hearing is scheduled to take place tomorrow (14 April) having been deferred twice. She was sentenced to death for blasphemy in November 2010 having been falsely accused of insulting Muhammad following an argument with Muslim co-workers. Aasia has been languishing in jail since the accusation was made in June 2009. Pray that her appeal will finally go ahead and that the judges will have the courage to acquit and release Aasia; there are concerns that they may give in to pressure from hardline Islamists who have been calling for her execution. Pray that Aasia, her husband and children will know the Lord’s peace as they await the verdict. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sun, Apr 2014 00:00

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