Washington DC, August 17: Expressing concern over the targeted attacks on churches in response to the reported desecration of the Quran in Pakistan, the US asserted that resorting to violence or the use of threats is never an acceptable form of expression, urging Pakistani authorities to conduct an investigation into these allegations and support peaceful freedom of expression.
Churches attacked in Pakistan
The US statement comes as multiple churches have been vandalised in the Jaranwala district of Pakistan's Faisalabad on Wednesday over the allegations of blasphemy, Dawn reported.
US State Department issues statement
“So we are deeply concerned that churches and homes were targeted in response to reported Quran desecration in Pakistan. We support peaceful freedom of expression and the right to freedom of religion and belief for everybody. And as we have previously said, we are always concerned of incidents of religiously motivated violence,” US State Department Principal Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel said at the state briefing.
Violence or threat of violence not acceptable
He added, “Violence or the threat of violence is never an acceptable form of expression, and we urge Pakistani authorities to conduct a full investigation into these allegations and call for calm for all of those involved”. Meanwhile, Christian leaders have alleged that the police remained silent spectators during the attack. President Bishop of the Church of Pakistan Azad Marshall said Christians were being tortured and harassed, Dawn reported.
Bishop Marshall crying out for justice
Bishop Marshall stated that he is crying out for justice and action to take place against those who had attacked them. He demanded the safety of citizens and asked to assure them that their lives are valuable in their own homeland that has just celebrated independence and freedom. Notably, minorities in Pakistan have continued to undergo a series of persecution and targeted attacks over the past years.
Minority population diminishing in Pakistan
Last month, Naveed Walter, the President of Human Rights Focus Pakistan said that the population of minorities in Pakistan has come down to 3 per cent from 23 per cent since its independence in 1947.
In June this year, a local court in Bahawalpur sent shockwaves across Pakistan after sentencing a 22-year-old Christian youth, Noman Masih, to death on blasphemy charges, BNN Network reported. The verdict sparked strong reactions from various human rights activists and organizations.