Oman today denounced rioters in Pakistan who set fire to 24 homes and 12 churches in a predominantly Christian neighbourhood following rumours involving the defacement of the Quran. Bahrain and the UAE have also slammed the attacks saying they were a violation of international laws and undermine the stability of Pakistan.
Police announced that more than 100 people were arrested and a further 600 processed by officials in relation to the case on Thursday. The attacks had taken place a day earlier.
PAKISTAN: 21 Churches set on fire, Bibles burned, 378 homes of Christian civilians destroyed by radical Islamists.
And the world is silent. Pray for the persecuted minorities in Pakistan. pic.twitter.com/ZHzlkyg6yI
— Hananya Naftali (@HananyaNaftali) August 18, 2023
Commenting on a situation, Bishop Azad Marshall, a member of the Pakistani clergy, wrote on X (formerly Twitter): “We […] are deeply pained and distressed by the Jaranwala incident…”.
Words fail me as I write this. We, Bishops, Priests and lay people are deeply pained and distressed at the Jaranwala incident in the Faisalabad District in Pakistan. A church building is being burnt as I type this message. Bibles have been desecrated and Christians have been… pic.twitter.com/xruE83NPXL
— Bishop Azad Marshall (@BishopAzadM) August 16, 2023
The two Christian men who allegedly defaced the Quran were also arrested.
In Pakistan, allegations and arrests pertaining to blasphemy are frequently the cause for riots such as these. Blasphemy laws are used on people of minority religions more than 50 per cent of the time despite them only making up less than four per cent of the population. This has drawn criticism from human rights groups including Amnesty International and Oxford Human Rights Hub.