PAKISTAN: Christians in Jaranwala, Pakistan Acquitted of Blasphemy Charges

05 March 2024

Source: Christian Daily International-Morning Star News

A judge in Pakistan on Friday 1 March acquitted two Christian brothers of false blasphemy charges that had led to Muslims attacking Christian homes and businesses in Jaranwala last year, sources said.

Faisalabad Anti-Terrorism Judge Muhammad Hussain ordered the acquittal of Umar Saleem, alias Rocky, and Umair Saleem, alias Raja after a police investigation showed they had been framed by three other Christians who bore personal enmity toward them, said Tahir Bashir, the brothers’ attorney.

The three Christians who made the false accusations of desecrating the Koran and writing blasphemous words have been arrested and charged with blasphemy, he said.

“The brothers are free and are with their family now. However, it is not safe for them to return to Jaranwala due to a serious threat to their lives. Though they have been acquitted from the court, there have been multiple instances where people accused of blasphemy have been killed by vigilantes despite being found innocent by the courts.”

Hundreds of Christians fled Jaranwala when rioters attacked on 16 August setting church buildings ablaze and raiding homes. The mob was estimated to have numbered around 5,000 at its peak, spurred by mosque loudspeakers announcing the Koran had been desecrated and derogatory words written against Mohammed, Islam’s prophet.

Dozens of Christian homes and about 20 church buildings were damaged and ransacked by Muslim mobs in Jaranwala after the accusations surfaced. Faisalabad police detained more than 300 suspects.

Justices at the Supreme Court, also hearing a case related to the Jaranwala attacks, said at a recent hearing that they regretted that state officials become intimidated by troublemakers who incite people to attack the properties of religious minorities.

The court also rejected a report by the Punjab government, with justices noting that the manner in which police carried out the investigation and apparent hesitation in identifying culprits would only bring disrepute to the force.

Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, vehemently upheld by Islamist parties, mandate the death penalty for defaming Mohammed and make insulting the Koran or Islam punishable with life imprisonment. To date, no death sentence has been carried out under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.

Unproven allegations of offending Islam can lead to murders and lynchings. Christians, who make up less than 2% of Pakistan’s population, are among the lowest social strata and frequently fall victim to baseless blasphemy claims. Other religious minorities, as well as politicians, lawyers, and students, have been killed over similar accusations or for defending those accused of blasphemy.

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    Pray for them

    Praise God for the acquittal of the brothers and for their reunification with their families.

    Pray for the continued safety of the Pakistani believers who continue to serve God despite the many dangers.

    Pray that God would move in the hearts of the Pakistani government and people so that blasphemy laws would be changed or repealed.

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    2 responses to “PAKISTAN: Christians in Jaranwala, Pakistan Acquitted of Blasphemy Charges”

    1. Janet Brumby says:

      Lord Jesus Thank you for the release of the two brothers. Lead them in the next step of their pilgrimage. Lord Jesus I pray for the three who have been arrested. I ask that they may receive counselling and help over this because something made them do it and that something needs to be sorted, I ask that we and the two acquitted pray for those who have despitefully used them.

    2. Janet Brumby says:

      Brian Houston of Hillsong was also false charged by members of the Hillsong Congregation. It does happen – even in Australia.

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