Hundreds of Christians in Lahore, Pakistan had their homes burnt down and later clashed with police who provided no protection after a dispute in which a Christian man was accused of blasphemy of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. The rampant persecution against Christians in Muslim nations continues to be inflamed with little government help on the way.
Joseph Colony, an area of Lahore, where the attack took place has been ravaged by the destruction from the mob of angry Muslims who burnt down homes and businesses while the authorities told local police to let the angered Muslims “let them vent their grief and anger.”
According to reports:
Shahid Imran, a Muslim barber in Joseph Colony in the Badami Bagh area, on Friday (March 8) accused his Christian neighbor, 26-year-old Sawan Masih, of blaspheming Muhammad. Imran alleged that Masih, who runs a small billiards business, had “ridiculed” Islam’s prophet by saying that Jesus was the greatest prophet ever.
Soon after, crowds of armed Muslims began gathering in the area of about 200 Christian families, mostly sanitation workers, demanding that Masih be handed over to them. They besieged his house and started pelting it with stones, damaging the windows and door. Masih had fled the area as soon as news reached him about Imran’s accusation. (source).
Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code calls for death or life imprisonment for those accused of blaspheming Muhammad, the prophet of Islam. These laws have emboldened the Muslim communities to attack those with vigilante or mob violence against those who are suspected of speaking out against Islam. And such was the case in Joseph Colony, where the angry mob rushed to Masih’s home. Efforts to calm the crowd were futile. Soon police arrested Imran’s father in hopes that would ease tensions but soon they were accused of being “blasphemers.” While he was taken into custody the crowd went on the attack.
Despite a heavy police presence in Joseph Colony, the crowd started to destroy property. prompting the order from the local government to “let them vent their anger.” Approximately 170 homes, 18 shops and several churches were burned down and destroyed. Many of the homes were looted before being destroyed by the rioters.
“I have been robbed of all of my life’s savings,” Yousuf Masih said, standing close to his burned house.
Area resident Haroon Masih wept as he described how the raiders broke the locks of his door and stole the dowries of his four daughters that he had been gathering for several years.
“They made off with everything valuable I had and then simply set the house on fire,” he said. “My new rickshaw was also burnt to ashes.” Residents also showed Morning Star News gas pipelines that had been sawed off to ensure maximum spread of fires.
Jesus Christ prophesied that all Christians should expect to be despised, rejected and hated in the world.
If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me. – John 15-18:21.
Double Standard Imposed
In response to the destruction of the Christian neighborhood, approximately Several hundred Christian protestors blocked a highway, demanding that the police take some action to stop the destruction. According to police officials, they uprooted a fence and burned an electric generator. Rather than letting them “vent their frustration” police responded by using tear gas on the crowd and arresting 150 protestors.
The government has offered 200,000 rupees ($2,000US) as compensation to each family, which was immediately rejected by the people of Joseph Colony:
“It is like poison to us,” they screamed as Christian Senator Kamran Michael and Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah visited the area late Saturday night amid heavy security.
The crowd shouted slogans against Michael and the Punjab government, believing Islamic leaders would have heeded them and holding them responsible for doing nothing to stop the violence. The two officials were forced to leave the area after just a few minutes.
The Punjab government later raised the compensation amount to 500,000 rupees, and the checks were handed out to victims. (source).
Pray for the Christians in Pakistan who suffered this horrific attack and for others who may be in danger as well. It is difficult for some living in certain parts of the world to grasp a reality where just being known as a Christian literally puts your home, family and life in jeopardy. But this is the reality for millions of Christians worldwide today. Pray for the failure of their persecutors and for the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to lead them to repentance.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.- Romans 8:35-37.