South Asia

US State Department expresses deep concern over church attacks in Pakistan

US State Department has called on Pakistani authorities to call for calm following attacks on a Christian community in eastern Pakistan.

As reported by local police and community leaders, a crowd of Muslim individuals vandalized multiple churches and set ablaze numerous houses, alleging that two members of the Christian community had desecrated the Koran.

The incident unfolded in Jaranwala, situated within the industrial district of Faisalabad, according to Naveed Ahmad, the police spokesperson. The two Christians were accused of blasphemy, Ahmad stated, and both they and their family members sought refuge elsewhere.

“We harbor deep concern that places of worship and residences were targeted as a response to reported Koran desecration within Pakistan,” commented Vedant Patel, a spokesperson from the US State Department. “We stand in support of peaceful expression of ideas and the right to religious belief for all individuals.”

He further asserted, “As reiterated in previous statements, we are consistently troubled by instances of violence driven by religious motivations. Violence or the potential for violence can never serve as an acceptable mode of expression. We call upon Pakistani authorities to initiate a thorough investigation into these allegations and to promote a sense of calm among all parties affected.”

The accusation of blasphemy holds severe consequences, including capital punishment, in Pakistan. Although no executions have been carried out on these grounds, several individuals accused of blasphemy have fallen victim to mob violence.

Human rights organizations assert that allegations of blasphemy are at times employed as a means of settling personal disputes. According to their observations, a substantial number of people remain incarcerated as trial proceedings are often postponed by judges who fear reprisal for being perceived as lenient.