By Kashif Nawab
Minority Rights Activist Joseph Jansen, alongside Akmal Bhatti, Chairman of Minority Alliance Pakistan (MAP), visited Jaranwala to address the lingering aftermath of a horrific incident that unfolded on August 16, 2023. This day remains etched in the memories of the Christian community in Jaranwala as a day of terror when religious freedom was brutally attacked.
On August 16, 2023, a charged Muslim mob of around 7,000 people stormed a Christian colony in the Jaranwala Tehsil of Faisalabad district. They ransacked several buildings and set multiple churches on fire over blasphemy allegations. The mob accused two local Christians of desecrating the Holy Quran, leading to hateful speeches, and the spread of fear and panic.
Despite the gravity of the incident, the perpetrators are enjoying impunity. Police data reveals that only 25 percent of the initial 350 arrests are still incarcerated, while the rest have been released on bail. Shockingly, those released on bail are now giving death threats to innocent Christians, creating an atmosphere of fear.
The consequences are severe. Christians have lost their jobs, and some have been compelled to shut down their businesses. The situation has worsened to the point where some Christians are unable to buy groceries at Muslim stores, and others fear visiting Muslim grocery stores.
As the Christian community marked Christmas on December 25, 2023, they were still living with the damage and shock of the attack. The trauma is so severe that a scream on the street is enough to bring back horrible flashbacks of the day when their belongings were reduced to ashes.
Joseph Jansen, emphasizing the urgent need for justice, stated, “Our local partner, Minority Alliance Pakistan, is actively leading around 10 cases in the courts, demonstrating resilience and commitment to seeking justice for the affected community.” He called on all stakeholders to collaborate extensively to restore harmony between the communities in Jaranwala and work towards a future where religious freedom is respected and protected for all.