Tragedy Unfolds in Jaranwala: Koran Desecration Allegations Trigger Unrest and Destruction


London: (By Hannah Chowdhry and Juliet Chowdhry) Muslim mob of over 3000 with sticks beat Christians indiscriminately, loot their homes and then burn them down in Gujranwala after allegation of blasphemy. A shocking series of events has unfolded in Jaranwala, Pakistan, following allegations of the desecration of the Quran – read our original account with many other videos (here).

What began as accusations against two Christian brothers has escalated into a devastating wave of violence, resulting in the destruction of over 30 churches and 500 homes.

The situation remains tense as the community grapples with the aftermath of this brutal  attack.

On the morning of August 16th, a video surfaced on social media, capturing a Muslim cleric addressing local residents through a loudspeaker at a local shrine in Cinema Basti, Jaranwala. The cleric’s inflammatory statements, urging Muslims to gather at the Matan Mosque and implying a sense of negligence among them, contributed to heightened tensions in the area.

“All Molivis [Islamic Clerics] and all Muslims should gather at Matan Mosque. Are you having breakfast at home? What kind of Islam is in you? You should have been willing to die. These roads should have been blocked.”

The incident originated from allegations against Raja Amir and Raki Masih, Christian brothers from Cinema Basti, accused of tearing pages from the Quran and defiling them with blasphemous content. Subsequently, the City Police Station Jaranwala registered an FIR (First Information Report) under charges of 295A and 295B, which hold the possibility of capital punishment.

Police initially apprehend the accused and collected evidence, due to lack of evidence both brothers were unexpectedly released around 10:00 am, fueling outrage within the Muslim community. The situation quickly escalated as mobs of Muslims gathered across the city, attacking Christian communities and resulting in the destruction of homes, churches, and other properties.

Subsequently, what appears to be manipulated and fabricated evidence, including blasphemous comments and images of the accused affixed to the defamatory content, has been presented to the police with the intention of initiating a criminal case.

The text above contains an image of the accused father and son and states that they are not afraid of Muslims and are desecrating the Koran in response to attacks on Christians. Pages of the Koran alos have defamatory text on them. 

The scenes captured in videos show the extent of the violence, with enraged individuals vandalizing churches, uprooting crosses, and plundering homes. The situation spread beyond Cinema Basti, affecting Christians in Nasir Colony, Esa Nagar, Christian Town, and neighboring locations.

Arif Masih, a local Christian in Cinema Basti, informed BACA, “We emptied our houses and fled to our relatives, whether near or far. The announcement in the mosque filled us with terror, and we knew something was going to happen today.”

The Muslim attack did not halt at Cinema Basti; it engulfed Christians throughout the entire city and its surroundings. Despite the presence of the police, the officers were unable to prevent the destruction of Christian homes and places of worship. Hapless police officers can be observed procrastinating in the face of the enraged mob numbering in the thousands.

As reported by local Christians, over 500 houses have been set ablaze in Nasir Colony, Esa Nagar, Christian Town, Cinema Basti, and other nearby locations.

Responding to the crisis, BACA (an organization advocating for the rights of Christians in South Asia) swiftly took action, despite facing threats and blocked entrances. The organization’s team reached Esa Nagar, Jaranwala, offering support to affected families, providing shelter, food, and water to those who had lost their homes.

The British Asian Christian Association provided meals for around 80 internally displaced Christians last night and has successfully accommodated 15 families in Lahore. We are reaching out to churches in Lahore for support in ensuring the ongoing maintenance and well-being of these families.

Almost all the families in Esa Nagar have fled to their relatives to ensure their safety. However, 10 families remained with no one to turn to. BACA provided comfort to these families and relocated them to a nearby safe location, the residence of our volunteer Pastor Mukhtar Masih, from where they were eventually taken to Lahore.

These orphaned sisters, who have supported and cared for each other, find solace in comforting one another, even as one of them grieves the loss of her dowry.

BACA successfully rescued two orphan sisters, Irum and Kiran, who were living alone in a house adjacent to the Salvation Army Church in Esa Nagar. Kiran, the older sister, shared with BACA that when the mob arrived they told them to leave their house, and so they did, in order to safeguard their lives and dignity. The sisters sought refuge in a nearby playground, helplessly witnessing their house being consumed by the flames before their eyes. The infuriated mob set their house ablaze, destroying everything within it.

Irum is scheduled to be married in November of this year, and both sisters work in a factory. They had saved and purchased a dowry (an amount of property or money brought by a bride to her husband on their marriage) for Irum, which has now been reduced to ashes. With their home lost, they find themselves with nowhere to go. They revealed to us that they have no surviving relatives, as their parents had passed away several years ago.

In another neighborhood, Pathan Colony, BACA have offered refuge and sustenance to five further Christian families seeking safety.  They have now been relocated to Lahore.

The situation continues to be volatile, and BACA is persistently providing food assistance to organizations that are providing shelter for Christians who have now become homeless. We are also actively locating temporary shelters for additional Christians, ensuring they are far removed from the fear that has engulfed persecuted Christians in Jaranwala. If you wish to contribute to our appeal, please consider making a donation by clicking (here).

Juliet Chowdhry, Trustee for British Asian Christian Association, said:

“I have been exposed to distressing narratives of Christians facing intimidation and physical assaults, being compelled to abandon their homes, and then witnessing the looting and destruction of their properties.

“A significant number of children have been rendered homeless, now finding refuge in the residences of others or within sizable church buildings, their lives irreparably shattered.

“It took over 24 hours for security forces to restore order to the area, but only after Christians had been forcibly displaced from their communities.

“The two accused Christians are currently in hiding, eluding discovery, which has stirred anger among local Muslims, intensifying the volatile atmosphere.

“No arrests of the culprits involved in the mob attacks have commenced, historical patterns suggest that convictions are elusive in similar incidents, leaving me skeptical about the outcome of this case.

“The fact that the authorities have reopened an investigation into the two innocent Christian men is deeply concerning, highlighting the prevalence of mob mentality and intolerance within the country. This underscores that law enforcement agencies are either inadequately empowered or prejudiced to administer justice in such situations.”

Our Chief Officer in Pakistan has communicated that police units have been deployed around Christian neighborhoods throughout the country due to an escalated threat level. Christian communities across Pakistan are currently gripped by apprehension, fearing the possibility of similar retaliatory assaults.  Please pray for peace for Pakistan and safety for Christians residing there.

The Muslim mob has incinerated hundreds of Bibles in an effort to demean and intimidate the Christian community.

BACA has supplied food for more than 80 Christians, offering assistance in various households open to those displaced, including the residence of Pastor Mushtaq.

During times of such upheaval, the provision of food has offered solace and alleviated the hunger of a traumatized Christian community.

The houses providing assistance have become overcrowded, yet the offers of help persist, and BACA is aiding families that have generously extended shelter.

Disheveled Christians are expressing gratitude to God for the assistance and support of donors, which has ensured that hunger the need for shelter are being kept at bay.

Food and bottled water have been provided, and this support will continue to be extended to several homes that are serving as makeshift shelters.

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