Pakistan is not typically considered a stronghold of religious freedom due to its strong commitment to Islamic law. This has resulted in incidents targeting Christians. On August 16, in the city of Jaranwala within the Faisalabad district of Punjab, violent mobs engaged in destructive behavior. The unrest began after Raja Amir, a resident Christian, along with a companion, tore pages from a Quran, discarded them on the ground, and proceeded to deface other pages with disrespectful comments.
The actions provoked ire among Muslims in the vicinity, leading to a crowd that initiated assaults on the residences and places of worship belonging to the Christian population in the locality. Shahid Mehmood, a local inhabitant, shared with Al Jazeera that his business, situated approximately 165 feet away from the Salvation Army Church, was affected. Upon his arrival at his shop around 10 a.m., he observed a sizable assembly outside the church premises. Consequently, he opted to close his shop a mere ten minutes after commencing operations.
Subsequently, the crowd proceeded to target the Salvation Army Church as well as additional locations within the vicinity. In close proximity to the Salvation Army Church, there existed a residential enclave housing approximately 150 Christian families. These families were compelled to vacate their homes, including women and children who were among those seeking refuge elsewhere.
Rizwan Khan, the head of the police force, informed NPR that the mob engaged in acts of arson, setting fire to furniture and other belongings within the residences. In due course, law enforcement personnel reached the scene, discharging warning shots into the air and employing their batons to disperse the assailants. In an effort to restore order, Muslim community leaders and clerics also arrived at the location.
Videos disseminated on various social media platforms depicted the extensive damage caused by the incidents. Khalid Mukhtar, a resident priest in the region, revealed that his own residence was among those consumed by the fires. In the town, a total of 17 churches are present, with the majority of them having incurred varying degrees of harm. Authorities have initiated an inquiry into the outbreak of violence.