Another Christian Pastor Arrested for Blasphemy After Pakistani Mob Forces Hundreds of Christian Families To Flee Over a Facebook Post | American Center for Law and Justice
  Search  |  Login  |  Register

ACLJ Profile Completion

Verified

Pakistani Mob Forces Christian Families To Flee Over a Facebook Post

By Shaheryar Gill1610383065226

Violence over a Christian Facebook post forced hundreds of Pakistani Christians to flee the neighborhood of Charrar, Lahore, fearing retribution and the destruction of their homes. Pastor Raja Waris, who had shared the post, was arrested and taken into custody after violent mobs threatened arson to the Christian community in Charrar. This incident is a symptom of a long history of violence that has taken place against Christians and other minorities in Pakistan. The United States Department of State has listed Pakistan as a country of particular concern for persecution of religious minorities.

Pakistani Christians are frequently falsely accused of blasphemy against Islam and sentenced to ten years for hurting religious feelings, life imprisonment for desecrating the Quran, or a mandatory death penalty for defiling the name of the Prophet Muhammad. Anyone who is being tried under these laws is almost never granted bail. While no one has officially been executed under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, violent rioting mobs often gather and threaten to kill the alleged blasphemer. Several of such mobs have destroyed and set on fire entire Christian neighborhoods and have killed many.

Furthermore, more than 1,500 people have been charged under the blasphemy laws from 1987 to 2017, many of them Christian, and at least 75 people have been killed. The State Department reports that many individuals accused of blasphemy in Pakistan remain in solitary confinement for extended periods and are often subjected to poor prison conditions. Data indicates that religious minorities, especially Christians, are disproportionately affected and targeted by the blasphemy laws. Additionally, “[l]ower courts often fail[] to adhere to basic evidentiary standards in blasphemy cases,” and the courts often face mob pressure to hand out maximum punishments.

The State Department’s Report on Religious Freedom in Pakistan indicates that in 2019 at least 84 individuals were imprisoned on blasphemy charges, at least 29 of whom were on death row. The State Department also noted that “[p]erpetrators of societal violence and abuses against religious minorities often face[] no legal consequences due to a lack of follow-through by law enforcement.” Victims of mob violence are often pressured to drop their cases against the parties involved. The State Department also reports that judges are generally hesitant to decide blasphemy cases, out of a fear of violent mob retribution.

According to our findings in the most recent case, around December 22nd, Pastor Raja Waris shared a post on Facebook, which some Muslims characterized as blasphemous. The exact content of the post is unknown, as the post was removed after receiving violent threats. Even after Pastor Waris apologized and removed the post, he and his family had to go into hiding to flee more violent threats against their lives. Hundreds of Muslims continued to demand Waris’ beheading. When the mobs grew even more violent and threatened arson, the Christians fled the neighborhood and sought shelter.

Police were deployed to the area, and they took Pastor Waris into custody. We have been told that the police have filed a blasphemy case against him. However, we have also heard that negotiations between the Muslim community leaders, the Christians leaders, and the relevant government officials are ongoing. That shows that there is hope that the government will do the right thing, and the government and both communities’ leaders might be able to resolve the matter and dismiss any charges against the pastor.

Our affiliate, European Centre for Law and Justice’s (ECLJ) office in Pakistan, the Organization for Legal Aid (OLA), was able to resolve a similar matter through negotiations. A pastor who had given a sermon at a funeral regarding Christ’s death was taken as blasphemous by a Muslim who was attending the funeral. After charges were filed, we approached the aggrieved Muslim and some community leaders and helped explain the meaning of the pastor’s sermon. In response, the Muslim complainant went to the court and testifed that he did indeed misunderstand the sermon and had no grievance against the pastor. The court dismissed the charges after it heard that statement and we filed a petition for dismissal for lack of evidence.

In Charrar, many of those who fled their homes in the initial violence have returned, but the situation remains volatile.We urge Pakistan to defend its citizens from such violence. We call on Christians to join us in praying for our fellow believers in Pakistan as they face mob violence for their faith. We must continue to advocate for our brothers and sisters in Christ facing atrocities and persecution.

Defend Dying Christians in Pakistan

Persecuted Church  Signatures

LOGIN

Receive the latest news, updates, and contribution opportunities from ACLJ.

$20
$40
$60
$120
$240
Make this a monthly Tax-Deductible gift.

As we aggressively fight in Pakistani courts to defend dying Christians, every gift (even $5) makes a difference. Donate today.

Email Address is required.
First Name is required.
Last Name is required.
Credit Card Number is required.
Verification Code is required.
Expiration Month is required.
Expiration Year is required.
Receive the latest news, updates, and contribution opportunities from the ACLJ.
Encourage your friends to sign and donate by sharing this petition.

ACLJ Details Atrocities in Burma and Demands Action at the UN

By Paul Archuleta1624453140000

Within Myanmar (Burma), the Burma Army is continuing to carry out mass atrocities against the people of Burma. In one case on March 27, 2021, a villager in Karen State lost her husband when the Burma Army carried out an airstrike and bombed their home. She gave a chilling account of the attack, “My...

read more

Pakistani Christian Couple Acquitted and Freed From Death Row

By Shaheryar Gill1623416340000

Two Pakistani Christians falsely charged with violating Sections 295-B and 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code on July 20, 2013, were acquitted after spending more than seven years on death row. On April 4, 2014, Shafqat Emmanuel and his wife, Shagufta Kausar, were convicted and sentenced to death for...

read more

The Persecution of Christians in Nigeria Demands Our Attention

By Mike Pompeo, Senior Counsel for Global Affairs1623240000000

Every single day in Nigeria, Christians aren’t just having their right to religious freedom denied – they are being murdered because of their faith in Jesus. I have often spoken of the importance of religious liberty to a free society. It is a foundational freedom. No society that denies its people...

read more

Our 18th Submission to U.N. for Nigeria’s Christians & Leah Sharibu

By Jordan Sekulow1622811540000

Every child deserves the right to go to school and to play outside of their home without the fear of being targeted for abduction or violent abuse because of their faith. But in Nigeria, that fear is very real and ever-present – especially for Christian women and children. We just took action at...

read more